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EHI Live 2013 - Open Source in the NHS - Next Up!

November 12, 2013 by gfoss   Comments (0)

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Well that went rather well! Certainly the lead up to the event was full of expectation and the openning session in Theatre B was set up to be a blockbuster, with Beverely Bryant, Bill Aylward, Wai Keong Wong, Ed Wallitt and Damian Murphy , all to speak about open source in the NHS.

They didn't dissapoint: Beverley Bryant announced £20m of 2014/15 funding for open source projects, Bill Aylward announced new funding sources for OpenEyes as well as international use in Orbis and USAid, Wai Keong Wong and Ed Wallit of hackday and CCIO fame, wowed us with new innovating solutions emerging and growing out of hackdays, which had received up to 20,000 downloads in the NHS, and Damian of the HSCIC impressed us with an open source interoperability implementation based on IHE and ITK Standards.

I don't think its an exaggeration to say that, this session represented a turning point in the history of NHS IT. Not only in terms of its policy towards open source, but in terms of the way the government view's its role in the NHS IT and also in terms of the way we view government. Beverley Bryant's presentation was frank, informative and unashamedly positive about what she was doing to encourage open source development and adoption - and this message went down extremely well, even with after fielding a few awkward questions.

" people keep telling me that the National Programme for IT didn't produce any benefit - its simply not true - they gave me this . . . " said Bill Ayward, who then popped up a powerpoint slide of an NPFIT branded mug which instantly brought the house close to tears! Bill's account of his OpenEyes project confirmed him and his team as the exemplars for other healthcare open source projects to follow across the NHS.

Wai Keong Wong blasted away the traditional way of developing software with his description of NHS Hackdays and how they succeed in bringing developers and users together to talk directly to and work directly with each other in building solutions rapidly. He showed us one - to replace an archaic mechanical cell counter with an automatic cell recogniser and counter, augmented with electronic images. The innocent way in which the potential derivative innovations stemming from this were revealed made the audience audibly gasp.

Ed Wallitt delivered a measured, blow by blow account of what his Podmedics company was all about, and the problem that he was addressing in his 'Induction' solution. The problem was called "Bleep, Bleep" at hackdays and referred to the problem of having to use the switchboard in hospitals for virtually all phone communications, despite most doctors owning smartphones. His simple mobile based directory building software solution had been downloaded over 20000 times and had been used to make over 8000 calls! I can see this becoming the first clear winner from the NHSHackday stable.

Finally, Damian Murphy described his open sourcing of the web services calls to support the ITL/IHE protocols for transferring secure data between endpoints in the NHS. This wouldn't be news apart from the fact that the protocols concerned are the IHE XDR/XDS protocols, which have been adopted by over 400 large international equipment suppliers - many of which are imaging suppliers.

I have no doubt that this session has some of the best presentations I've seen in years, and I can't wait to see them again online.