Using open source in health care is not a new thing -- consider Medsphere's OpenVista, or the work of the Open Source Health Care Alliance. But if you're looking for a case study on the move from proprietary software to open source in a health care organization, you may want to dig into this piece at LinuxInsider.com.
It took five years for Florida Hospital in Orlando to get rid of the last vestiges of proprietary software in its systems and replace it with open source alternatives, the story says, but IT administrators are beginning to see the pay off. Before open source, development projects were canceled as too costly, the hospital's disaster recovery time frames were too long, and IT performance overall was suffering.
So the small IT staff ventured all on its own to move to open source -- Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on HP and IBM servers in this case. They had to do it in stages, and it wasn't easy, according to the hospital's Linux administrator, Ron Skantz, who is quoted in the piece. In the beginning, the market wasn't all that big, and the team had to look to the Internet and Linux user groups for support in addressing some of their challenges.
Now, Skantz says, not only have most of their challenges disappeared (software availability is better by far, and mainstream vendors aren't as afraid of open source, for instance), but other hospitals in their network are modeling what they've done:
Now we are seeing signs of the Linux operating system spreading elsewhere in the system. The central office has a large proprietary staff but no technicians to handle Linux. They view us as progressive technologists. They are going to have to do the same thing we did.
In fact, he says, at least one of Florida Hospital's competitors is considering a move to open source.