Open Source Software Projects in Health Care Offer Significant Cost Savings, Reports Black Duck Software

Open Source Offers to Break Status Quo by Reducing Cost of Implementing Electronic Medical Records Systems

WALTHAM, Mass., June 10, 2009, Open source projects created for use in health care and medical applications promise to significantly reduce costs and contribute efficiencies to health care organizations, according to Black Duck Software, the leading global provider of products and services for accelerating software development through the managed use of open source software.

Using a well-known cost estimation model (COCOMO) to determine the cost to produce software, Black Duck estimates that the nearly 800 health care open source software projects it identified represent $6 billion USD of software development costs, and would require 31,000 staff years of development to replicate. These projects represent a significant potential stimulus resource available to the healthcare industry.

Projects dealing with electronic health records management, practice management and VistA, the health care information management system developed by the US Veterans Administration, lead in project community activity. Projects such as PatientOS, a patient management system; OpenEMR; an electronic medical record application, and OpenVista, an open-source version of VistA, are among the most active health care projects in the open source community as tracked by the Black Duck KnowledgeBase.

A report by life science market research publisher Kalorama Information, which valued the market for electronic medial record systems at $575 million in 2008, forecasts growth in the sector will reach $1.6 billion in 2013. According to Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, “EMRs give patients and physicians greater freedom, improve accuracy, and should result in better outcomes as critical records are all in one easily transportable record.”

“The Obama administration, in its proposed reform of the health care system, has earmarked billions of dollars of stimulus money to foster the adoption of electronic medical records in Medicare and Medicaid alone,” said Eran Strod, director of product marketing, Black Duck Software. “Using open source software to meet this challenge - and break the ‘status quo’ the president identified in his radio address on health care - represents a significant opportunity to quickly implement electronic medical records systems at a drastically reduced cost to the country.”

The top ten community-based open source health care projects dealing with electronic medical records and practice management each ranked in the top five percent on SourceForge, with hundreds to thousands of downloads per month. The projects are listed in the table below.

Project Name Description
CARE2XIntegrated Hospital Information System for surgery, nursing, outpatient wards, labs, pharmacy, security, admission, schedulers, repair, communication & more.
dcm4cheLeading Java implementation of DICOM [].   DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging, founded by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).  There are 69 additional open source projects in the DICOM ecosystem including pydicom, dicom-archive, EchoScu-DICOM, and many more.
Elexis PraxisprogrammAn Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform) for all aspects of a medical practice: electronic/medical record (EMR), laboratory findings, as well as accounting, billing and other daily work. Supports the TARMED-System.
FreeMEDElectronic Medical Record and Practice Management system for medical providers.
medicalScalable EMR (Electronic Medical Record) module for OpenERP, aiming to provide a 100% paperless practice for a single office or a hospital. Uses industry standards, such WHO ICD-10.
OpenEMedDistributed healthcare and medical information framework based on open standards including those of HL7 and the healthcare taskforce of the OMG (Object Management Group).  These standards include identity management, observation access, access, and terminology.
OpenEMROpen Source Electronic Medical Record, Practice Management, Prescription Writing and Medical Billing application. OpenEMR supports ANSI X12 EDI billing and two clearing houses: ProxyMed and ZirMed.
PatientOSElectronic medical record (EHR or EMR and PMS) for a physician or clinics.  Designed to be expanded into a Healthcare Information System for a hospital (Laboratory, Pharmacy, Orders, etc…).
TkfpTK Family Practice - Small office EMR for family physicians, pediatricians, internists or primary care, handling key functions including: registering the patient, reading and writing progress notes, checking medications, writing and transmitting prescriptions looking up information on medical questions, making referrals, and finally generating the bill and/or insurance claim, ready for transmission or printing. Used in a four-doctor group for five years. Handles HCFA1500 claim form.
Ultimate EMROpen Source Core Electronic Medical Record for small medical providers with key functionalities: complete patient history, past visits, Rx, health maintenance, allergies, labs, vitals, notes, and procedures.
VistAVeterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture - Enterprise grade health care information system and Electronic Health Record developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and deployed at nearly 1,500 facilities worldwide.   Major open source projects including: WorldVistA, WordVistA EHR, OpenVista and VistA-Office HER.


Black Duck spiders the Internet collecting open source and other downloadable code into a database it calls the Black Duck KnowledgeBase. With more than 200,000 projects from 4,100 Internet sites - and including 9,000 CodePlex projects - the KnowledgeBase is a significant source of information about open source projects. More than 40,000 new projects have been added to the KnowledgeBase since January 2009.

To listen to a podcast in which Black Duck’s Eran Strod discusses open source and health care, visit

About Black Duck Software

Black Duck Software is the leading global provider of products and services for accelerating software development through the managed use of open source and third-party code. Black Duck™ enables companies to shorten time-to-market and reduce development and maintenance costs while mitigating the risks and challenges associated with open source reuse, including hidden license obligations, security vulnerabilities, unsupported open source and version proliferation. The company is headquartered near Boston and has offices in San Francisco, Amsterdam and Hong Kong, as well as distribution partners throughout the world.

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