Open-Source Software a Cheap Fix for Hospitals
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2009 10:58 AM CDT
Nurse Jennifer Castagnier works on a bedside workstation of the Pyxis Medstation System as patient Philipp Kohlbacher rests at the Indiana Heart Hospital in Indianapolis.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Hospitals around the country are scrambling to comply with a federal mandate that they digitize their records systems, and one Texas hospital is an example of how to do that virtually for free, the Wall Street Journal reports. Developed with billions of taxpayer dollars, the Veterans Health Administration’s software is open source, meaning anyone can modify or compile it gratis.

Midland Memorial spent just $7 million to upgrade from a system based on pneumatic tubes to one based on the VA software. That included new computers, and hiring a company to modify the software for commercial use. That second step might soon be unnecessary; Sen. Jay Rockefeller has introduced legislation to create a commercial open-source system, and provide it free to safety-net and rural hospitals.