I’m a major proponent of the open source software movement. In fact, pretty much everything that I use to run this website is open source (WordPress, Linux, MySQL, PHP, Apache, etc). Wow, I didn’t even include all the software tools I use to publish EMR and HIPAA. Anyway, I’m a firm believer in what open source can accomplish. You may have read my previous posts about the Free and Open Source in Healthcare Un-conference this summer or possibly what I think is the right open source EMR model. I’ve also cautioned about whether “free EMR” is really free. Ok, I could go on for a while covering all the posts I’ve done, but here’s 2 links to all my free EMR posts and my open source EMR posts.
My point is that I believe in open source can do and I think it could have a major impact in health care. In fact, I sincerely hope that it will have an impact. The problem is that if HHS decides to use CCHIT as the certification criteria for the EHR stimulus, then the HITECH act will basically be excluding open source EHR and EMR packages from being part of the “certified EHR.”
Sure, I guess a community of users behind an open source EHR could pool together enough money to pay for CCHIT certification, but realistically I don’t see this happening. In fact, the thought of paying so much money to CCHIT is almost counter to the open source movement. I just don’t see why any open source EHR would make CCHIT a priority in their development life cycle.
Yes, I do know that HITECH includes a provision (if that’s the right term) that allows HHS to provide an open source package. Does that also mean that HHS will provide an exception for the government provided open source EHR package? Will users of that open source EHR be able to get the medicare and medicaid bonuses? I’m not sure that HHS even has the authority to do this. However, even more important is that they’d still be excluding the dozen of other open source EHR software programs out there.
This is just one more reason why HHS should not use CCHIT and should consider creating their own set of certification criteria. Looking at my recent CCHIT As The HITECH Certification Criteria Poll it looks like at least the majority of my readers would prefer a different certification criteria as well.