Open Source Digital Health Event Wrap Up

Post Event Analysis of Merging Open Source Software & Healthcare Technology

Our first event in our Healthcare Technology Innovation series on June 18th was a big success. I want to thank the panelists and Pillsbury for hosting the event in their offices and for their generosity. This event definitely proved that San Diego is spearheading healthcare innovation on a national scale. Our goal with this series is to continue that narrative and broaden it to a more national scale.

We were lucky enough to have three industry leaders on our June 18th panel. The panelists, which included: Tom Hall, Senior Marketing Manager for Dexcom, Cody Johansen, Technical Operations Manager for San Diego Health Connect and William O’Connor, CTO for Achieve Internet, discussed the benefits of Open Source Software (OSS) to their organization and the healthcare industry as a whole.

The discussions that took place at the event were insightful and engaging. The panelists really keyed in on the community aspects of Open Source software, the flexibility of certain platforms and the extensibility Open Source solutions provide.

One of the more interesting topics of discussion centered on the evolution from closed proprietary systems to a more open ecosystem within the healthcare industry. Tom Hall mentioned that it is acutely apparent when looking 10 years back. He recalls a time when not only were the devices and software proprietary but so were the cables that connected them to the computer. The Open Source systems at Dexcom have helped remove those pre-existing internal barriers, which increases their value proposition to their customers. This went hand in hand with what Cody Johansen was saying about how the Open Source Health Information Exchange (HIE) was immediately improving system interoperability between major EHRs and even between practices without EHRs and hospitals that use them.

Another key reoccurring dialogue was how Open Source technology provided flexibility, which future proofs solutions that are implemented now, ensuring that they do not become obsolete as change inevitably occurs. This “future-proofing” that the panelists spoke of is made possible by the extensibility that Open Source solutions provide. This allow the solutions, whether they be an HIE, a patient portal or medical device software, to be expanded to fit the specific needs as they become apparent to the client. Open Source Software provides adaptable tools supported by a community of engineers, and those engineers are able to put the tools to use in the most effective ways.

Our CTO, Bill, was asked to highlight the security measures taken when it comes to Open Source systems. He said that “in truth every system is exploitable with enough time and energy,” but with some Open Source frameworks like Drupal for example there are 1M+ members reviewing source code and new threats who can identify an issue and bring a quick solution to the community in hours. In the case of proprietary systems those vulnerabilities might not be identified with as much speed or transparency given the smaller pool of engineers that have access to the code. Furthermore, the pool of talent that Open Source communities offers seemed to be the main reason for its adoption in both San Diego Health Connect and Dexcom’s case. An interesting aspect of the larger talent pool is not everyone comes to the software with the traditional computer science background. This fresh perspective not only expands the thinking and creativity, it broadens the pay scale and allows less technical projects to get completed more rapidly and at a lower cost.

Overall this was a great inaugural event for our series and we look forward to future events here in San Diego. We want to give a special thanks to Christian Salaman at Pillsbury for hosting the event and his amazing team who did all the heavy lifting putting together the room and making sure there was plenty of food and coffee. We would love to continue the growth of the local healthcare technology community and we have started a Meetup group to spread the word. We hope you will join us as we improve and promote the dialogue of how technology can improve the healthcare industry as well as the patient experience. Future events will include a discussion around patient engagement and the intersection of hardware to software. To stay abreast of all the new developments please join our group at the Meetup page.

Thanks again and we hope to see you at our next event!


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