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Linux 2003
Conference and Tutorials
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Thurs 31st July - Sun 3rd August 2003
Edinburgh, Scotland

Dr Anand Ramkissoon - Project Ganesh

Free and Open Source Software in the Health Service

Paper (HTML) Paper (StarOffice Impress)

The software requirements of the health service are largely technically unremarkable. However, the variety of healthcare specialties leads to a heterogeneous set of requirements which cannot be met by a single business solution. Additionally, the individual specialisms act as niches of software requirement, each of which is too small to stimulate adequate development activity or commercial competition. The result is a reliance on a too small number of commercial software products of (at best) variable quality, written to frequently inadequate specifications.

Once in use, the currently available products tend to act as a brake on improvement in a number of effective ways. In order to stimulate improved software development, I believe it is necessary to unlink the processes of specification construction and software development, and to separate specification construction from the purchasing process. Ideally this should result in high quality formal technical specifications. Such specifications should act as (open) standards and be suitable for use by developers of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

In this talk I present work on such a specification for Hospital Laboratory software. The approach I have taken is to provide a systematic, universal specification, which is modular, and describes a superset of the functinality required by any single laboratory. The modular nature of the specification arises from the analysis of functions required by different specialisms and identification of common areas. The specification consists of two arms; a set of functional requirements described using the Unified Modelling Language; and a standard database schema which would allow data portability and comparison across laboratories. In particular, I will demonstrate the particular relevance of Linux as a basis for implementing the specification, because the logistics of many hospital laboratories.


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