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British Medical Journal: Medical Software's Free Future

Oct 20, 2000, 15:11 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Douglas Carnall)

[ Thanks to Saint for this link. ]

"Free software facilitates the provision of common software components. As well as the saving on licence fees, it allows software engineers to concentrate on the important part of system development: customising components for the organisation that they serve. There are other advantages. ..."

"Free software concepts make particular sense in medicine: although peer review has its problems, medical knowledge is becoming more open, not less, and the idea of locking it up in proprietary systems is untenable. And professional staff should not invest time learning the user interface of proprietary systems that may change, be withdrawn, or be arbitrarily "upgraded" for commercial reasons. Much better instead to invest time on a system licensed under the General Public License that will always be free."

"The European Union has already embraced open source: its fifth framework programme (which will fund 3.6bn Euros of research and development over the next 5-10 years) places a strong emphasis on projects which will yield open source software as one of the outputs. Next week the NHS Information Authority hosts a seminar to consider the implications of the free software movement for its future strategy. If it chooses (as it should) to use and encourage open source development methods throughout the organisation, it will find a host of high quality programmes already under way across the world. Leveraging this effort should reap rewards for managers, professionals, and patients alike."

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