Spotlight on OSEHRA

We recently posted about Ken Mandl’s participation in a panel at the OSEHRA 1st Annual Open Source EHR Summit and Workshop. Audio and slides are now available to those with OSEHRA user accounts; scroll to Day One, 3pm, “Open Source Best Practice and Business Models.”

OSEHRA logoNow we’d like to back up and talk briefly about OSEHRA itself, and share links that highlight its relationship to SMART.

OSEHRA (pronounced “Oh Sarah”) is the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent. It launched in August of 2011 when the Veterans’ Administration and Department of Defense took up the challenge of uniting and converting their EHR systems—two of the largest in the country—from proprietary to open source, using VistA as a technical starting point. A project of this magnitude needs an organizational structure to foster the community of EHR users, developers, and researchers, as well as a framework for the code repository and software standards. That’s where the “Agent” part comes in. For more on its formation, see OSEHRA’s press releases and news coverage.

SMART and OSEHRA are similar in their missions to break down closed monolithic health IT systems in favor of an innovative open-source community approach. Tom Munnecke, one of the original software architects of VistA and an active OSEHRA member, first connected SMART to the OSEHRA community in March of this year by posting his video interview of Zak Kohane. Several days later, he wrote a proposal to support the “App Store” model that Kohane and Mandl had set forth.

In May, a team from WorldVistA built a SMART App prototype on a dataset from the UK National Health Service, followed soon after by the “SMART-enablement” of VistA. Josh Mandel, the Lead Architect of SMART, shared this progress in a June post to the OSEHRA site about SMART, VistA, and the Semantic Web.

In response, a discussion between Munnecke and fellow member Conor Dowling, CTO of Caregraf, ensued, which prompted Dowling to post a comparison between SMART and VistA patient data schemas. Munnecke also had an interesting exchange with Ravi Teja Bhupatiraju of OHSU, with SMART among a number of topics.

As one might expect, Mandel was soon approached by the OSEHRA Architecture Work Group and spoke to them about the SMART platform in July.

In October, we were pleased to see that SMART apps had made their way into an exercise in Luis Ibáñez’s Open Source Software Practices course at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Naturally, he shared the class notes in the OSEHRA blog.

We look forward to future SMART–OSEHRA connections and to will continue to learn from one another!


Video: Open Government Reality Check Part 3, from the 2012 Government IT Leadership Forum.
Todd Park and Peter Levin discuss the efficiency and effectiveness of open government efforts.