Linux Software Development Benefits Healthcare

    February 22, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A joint effort by WorldVistA and Windows-to-Linux developer firm CodeWeavers will bring a component of the VistA health records application to Linux systems.

Electronic record-keeping helps physicians and other healthcare professionals keep patient records as timely as possible. The fewer surprises involved in trying to diagnose and treat a patient, the better.

Proprietary software exists to facilitate that record-keeping, but poses a substantial expense to doctors. However, the WorldVistA project has been developing an open source version of its hospital software package.

The software is available for free public use under the Freedom of Information Act. Originally, the VistA package ran on systems like Microsoft Windows or VMS, but WorldVistA’s work has made it POSIX compliant and available for Linux, BSD, and Unix operating systems.

An important component of VistA, the CPRS, now has a commitment from WorldVistA and CodeWeavers to bring CPRS to Linux.

The organizations announced the new effort in a statement, and discussed aspects of the project:

CodeWeavers’ version of the VistA CPRS (Computerized Patient Record System) graphical user interface will be promoted by WorldVistA to non-profits as well as healthcare providers in developing nations around the world. The goal of the two organizations is to increase the viability of implementing VistA, thereby giving providers the same capabilities in records management enjoyed by their better-funded counterparts in the industrialized West.

CPRS (Computerized Patient Record System) is the primary physician interface for VistA. Currently available only for Windows, CPRS is being converted for Linux by CodeWeavers using the company’s well-known CrossOver Office(TM) Windows-to-Linux porting technology.

“One of the biggest challenges in healthcare today is the lack of collaboration among healthcare providers due to an incompatible technical infrastructure. VistA excels in this area, especially in the dissemination of treatment protocols and other therapeutic guidelines,” said Jonathan Parshall, chief operating officer of CodeWeavers, Inc.

Over 85% of the VistA CPRS operated out-of-the-box on Linux using CrossOver Office. Remaining functionality is being facilitated by CodeWeavers programming specialists, with completion expected in the very near future.

CodeWeavers also plans to have a CPRS-specific version of CrossOver Office available at little to no cost. For developing nations, that cost would be based on a needs assessment and may be a zero cost acquisition for an organization.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.