Open-source community partners with Georgia Tech to promote healthcare IT

Open Health Tools (OHT), an open-source community led by former National Coordinator for Health IT Robert M. Kolodner recently announced a partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology to promote healthcare IT initiatives, reports Healthcare IT News.

A primary goal of the collaboration is to accelerate the adoption of healthcare IT in order to improve the quality of patient care, access to shared resources and foster innovation in the development of new healthcare technologies.

“We want to accelerate the health IT advances necessary to deliver high-quality, person-centered health and care and eliminate health disparities,” Kolodner said, as quoted by the news source. “Our initiative will gather a rich set of open source and commercial resources that enable public, private, and nonprofit entities to begin collaborative projects quickly and with minimal start-up costs.”

OHT is a collaborative effort between major national health agencies, governmental organizations, healthcare IT vendors, researchers and private enterprises from the U.S., Canada, UK and Australia. Common goals of the OHT include the development of standardized healthcare IT tools, software and platforms intended to enable greater numbers of healthcare providers to implement medical informatics systems and other technological advances.

The open-source nature of many of the OHT’s research and development efforts could enable smaller physician practices and healthcare providers to adopt medical informatics systems. According to U.S. News and World Report, the initial cost of implementing a clinical informatics network averages around $20,000 per physician. Installation and the training of personnel can cost as much as $230,000 in the first year for a five-physician practice.

Despite the initial outlay involved in implementing electronic medical records, many smaller healthcare providers are committed to making the transition to digital systems from paper-based records. According to Information Week, the number of physicians who migrated to medical informatics systems doubled between 2008 and 2011, rising from 17 to 34 percent.

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