IBM open source to help healthcare systems communicate

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IBM last week announced that it is donating software to the healthcare industry in hopes of uniting “islands” of medical records. The move should aid efforts to help further interoperability within the industry which is vital in establishing a national system of electronic health records.
   
Big Blue donated the software to the Eclipse Foundation's Open Healthcare Framework (OHF) project so that data throughout the healthcare system can be shared with any health information exchange (HIE). It is hoped that software developers will also be able to build applications that can aggregate and sift through this information to improve healthcare delivery and research while protecting individual privacy, according to an IBM release of the plans.
   
"One of the more significant challenges in creating a national interoperable electronic healthcare information infrastructure is the ability to access disparate health records stored in proprietary medical IT systems," said Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry. "By making the client side components of our HIE technology available through OHF, we hope to help solve this problem. As a result of this patient-centric systems approach, clinicians will be able to access health records from virtually any medical IT system, regardless of where the information resides."
   
Beyond healthcare, IBM also announced last week an overall strategy that will further push the company into open-source software applications beyond its long-held operating system Linux, the Seattle Times reports.
   
"This strategy for open source beyond Linux will be a bigger disruptive force in the next three years than Linux was in the last 15," said Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of worldwide Linux and open source, the Times reports.
   
Industry experts believe that IBM’s plan could have a fundamental impact on how the software industry functions. Linux, for example, is a open-source model of success holding a 12 percent share of the server operating-system market, according to research firm IDC, the Times reports.
   
IBM announced that it targeting eight different business opportunities within its new open-source strategy, including: web applications servers; software-development tools; data servers; and grid computing.
   
IBM also is adding to its Linux platform two of its popular Notes and Sametime communication and collaboration software.
   
It is believed that IBM’s new endeavors will further pressure Microsoft to up its ante in the open source frontier.