Open Source resources

Jump to: Open Source | Open Source resources related to HealthHealth Linkssp; Health Mailing lists | HEventsDocuments of the European UnionHealth NewsOther useful Open Source resourcesFurther ReadingCompanies supporting the Open Source modelPatentsHealth surveysOS surveys

This page has been set up with the contributions of different mailing lists, among which OpenHealth, FreeSw and Medecine-Linux.

Read this document if you want to contribute.

Open Source

Here below is my own one-page essay. Click to skip it. Much better essays can be found at the Open Source Foundation or in the recommendations for Open Source initiatives

Open Source software is a piece of software whose source code is accessible and which distribution allows to preserve the Open Source characteristics of the original work. Examples of Open Source software are the operating system Linux (after the name of the Fin Linus Torvalds), the web server Apache, Netscape Navigator but also numerous mathematical and scientific software libraries. The Health sector is also represented with an electronic healthcare record (GEHR, or object models from Synapses. The department of Veteran Affairs in USA has also funded for the last 15 years the development of DHCP/Vista, an electronic healthcare record system, with success in terms of dissemination in the US.

Open Source is a paradigm shift with respect to Intellectual Property Rights more than anything else: the user has access to the source of a piece of software, of documentation or even of training material which are made public under different types of licenses which have in common the concept of copyright which is only used to protect the authorship and ownership. More on the types of licenses (such as GPL, LGPL, BSD, MPL to cite a few) can be found at Although access to source code is granted, it only represents a right to do so, and in no way an obligation. To use an analogy, the owner or driver of a car has the right to access the car engine but has not the obligation to fix it if broken and this can apply to cars under guarantee as well as used cars.

There are several advantages to the Open Source model. Without entering into much details, here are a few: higher reliability, better peer-reviewed code, no proprietary standards, no vendor lock-in, development speed, lower overhead. This model pressures for innovation and allows other types of business models such as integration, services and training.

In the health care domain, it would mean that a better, less-fragmented solution (HIS, EHR, ...) would be available to all (hospitals, GP, ...), that software companies would compete on the basis of services (maintenance, support,  integration, training, customisation, ...). This is the technical side of Open Source.

Proposals of law begin to appear in France (more recent updates on B. Lang's pages) and Germany in order to oblige public procurement to be done under the Open Source model. This is the political side of Open Source.

More Open Source resources can also be found at

It should be noted that Open Source is part of the vision of the IST advisory group and has become a priority of the work programme 2000.

Open Source resources related to Health

Index: [PI] patient index [OS] Open Source [CS] Closed Source [FW] freeware [Country] where the main site is located [language] which languages are available [EU] founded by the EU at some time in t he existence of the project [TK] toolkit [EHR] electronic health record [€] fee for  the software [OL] Ontology [ML] multilingual support [DICOM] DICOM resource [HL7] HL7 resource [TM] training material [NU] nurse-related resources [GP] General-Practioner-related resources [DT] dental practice [MI] medical imaging [ES] expert system [LI] Laboratory-related resources [PDA] PDA-related resource

Health links

Mailing lists

Sending a message to a list is often restricted to recipients of the same list.


Links to documents of the European Union

Given the possible audience of this page, it might be worthwhile to clarify what is the European Commission. In short, the European Union is a union of 15 European countries (also called Member States: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. The European Commission is a kind of executive government of the European Union. The Commission is empowered by these 15 European countries as formulated in a Treaty (the last version of this treaty is dubbed the Treaty of Amsterdam) to carry out several activities, among which R&D. In R&D, the Commission act more or less like DARPA: publication of our R&D priorities in an annual work programme, call for proposals, evaluation of proposals, negotiation, funding of the projects and follow-up.

The Information Society Technology (IST) programme is a part of a $15 billion R&D programme over 4 years (1998-2002) called 5th Framework Programme. More can be found on  As another example, pure clinical research is mostly carried out in another programme: the quality of life and life science (QoL) programme. Participation to these R&D programmes is open to partners from all countries. However, only partners from European countries and associated states are entitled to receive funding from the Commission ( In some cases, a national mechanism (such as in Switzerland through the ministry of education, or in Argentina) has been foreseen to fund their national participating organisations once a proposal has been retained by the Commission (


[TODO]should use RDF here to publish latest news

Other useful Open Source resources

[TODO]add the links. This section is made to give support to develop further Open Source projects, in particular ones related to Health.

Further reading?

Companies supporting the Open Source model

This list tries to capture the companies supporting the OS model, either by developing in the Open Source model themselves, by sponsoring the OS model or by disseminating OS results.


No Open Source documents without a word on patents...

Health surveys

Too often, technology is in the driving seat... But what are the users needs out there?
(TODO)Where are the online versions of the surveys? Who could provide them?
(a user is loosely defined: it can be anyone from a healthy citizen to Health authorities, including patients, doctors, nurses, authors of medical publications, ...)

OS surveys


General acknowledgements go to Joseph Dal Molin, OpenGALEN web site, ... for the significant contribution.
Specific acknowledgments are also made in HTML comments in the contributed material - look for <!-- --> in the HTML source.
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