Why An Open Source Centralized Healthcare Database Is Important?

TheCodeWork
10 min readNov 8, 2023

I will open with a personal story today:

Needless to say, it did burn a hole in my pocket with all the tests that the doctors were redoing as per their preferences. That is when it struck me, why healthcare industry doesn’t have a centralized healthcare database? This would literally solve the problem of delayed health care, credibility, and cost savings. Once I was down with an immense knee injury.

Not knowing the intensity of it, I went to see the family doctor. He gave me two hundred tests (literally) to diagnose the problem. After all this, he sent me to a referred doctor who happened to be an orthopedic. This guy ran me through four hundred tests (including the earlier tests) to come to a conclusion. And this is not the end. I had to go from one doctor to another.

So, why should this concern you?

Well, it’s not just about my data, or resources, or health! Rather, it’s about countless patient records that play a crucial role in healthcare! And the way we currently handle healthcare data is a mess! People will soon vouch for a centralized healthcare database, just like they have it in the USA — will discuss in detail in the upcoming sections.).

So, in this blog, let me share why health organizations urgently need an open-source centralized healthcare database that keeps up with user demands and also simplifies healthcare.

The Current State of Healthcare Data

To begin with, here’s a statistic to add to my concern — The International Data Corporation (IDC) says, global healthcare data generation will double by 2025.

Just like any other sector, data is the cornerstone. It enhances medical science & patient care.

However, over 80% of healthcare data is unstructured, leading to inefficiencies & errors. And, that’s exactly why TheCodeWork is strongly committed to providing efficient Health-tech data solutions to health-tech organizations. Because it’s more than just dealing with numbers.

As I was saying — a majority of healthcare data is in a mess right now! This situation is not just inconvenient but is also costing us big time financial tools and opportunities.

Allow me to walk you through:

  • Patients face delays in getting the right care.
  • Inefficiencies in data management leads to losses in billions.
  • Doctors are burdened with data access processes.
  • Researchers are hampered in their efforts to make breakthroughs.

Honestly speaking, the current state of our Healthcare Data systems, highly underscores a pressing need for open source healthcare databases. Also, McKinsey & Company estimated that the adoption of open source healthcare databases could save up to approximately $300 billion annually. That’s a staggering amount that could be reinvested in improving patient care, developing new treatments, & making healthcare more affordable.

So, it’s not just about making things easier; it’s also about making healthcare smarter, more efficient, and cost-effective. It’s a win-win we can’t afford to overlook.

The Need for an Open Source Healthcare Database Approach

Healthcare organizations have unique needs and workflows. It often is marked by a multitude of systems and devices that frequently operate in silos, hindering data exchange and collaboration. But, open source solutions can break down these barriers, enabling interoperability between different healthcare systems and devices. This seamless data sharing is essential for coordinated patient care and efficient healthcare delivery.

Also, Red Hat says 95% of industry leaders believe that open source software is important for their organization’s enterprise software infrastructure. This reflects the increasing importance of open source in various sectors, including healthcare.

Now along with other benefits like cost savings and seamless data-sharing; it also brings adaptability which ensures that technology aligns with the way healthcare is delivered, enhancing efficiency and patient care.

Remember, In today’s era, the adoption of open source solutions is not just strategic but also logical too! If you ask me then I’m all for open source solutions in healthcare. It will make life so much easier.

You see, they break down the barriers between different systems and devices, making sure my medical info flows seamlessly. It’s like everyone in my healthcare team finally speaks the same language, and that’s a huge relief.

Now, it’s time to have a look at its core advantages and the benefits that you can reap from it!

Benefits of a Healthcare Database

First off, it’s not just about accessibility! Adopting an open-source approach in healthcare data management offers numerous benefits, from flexibility and cost savings to collaboration & innovation.

Here are some key advantages of implementing open-source solutions in the healthcare sector:

  • Cost-Effective: Open source software is often cost-effective because it eliminates licensing fees. Healthcare institutions can redirect resources that would have been spent on proprietary software licenses toward other critical areas. It can include things such as patient care and infrastructure improvements.
  • Customizability: Healthcare organizations can tailor the software to meet their specific needs and workflows. This adaptability allows for a more efficient integration of systems and ensures that the software aligns with the organization’s requirements.
  • Rapid Development: With a large and diverse community of contributors, open source projects can advance rapidly. For example: Bugs are identified and fixed more quickly, new features are added, and the software evolves to address emerging healthcare challenges.

Trivia: The Linux Foundation, a prominent open source organization, has over 100,000 members from more than 100 countries. This demonstrates the extensive global community collaboration that open source initiatives can harness.

  • Long-Term Viability: Open source software projects tend to have long-term viability because they are not tied to a single vendor. This reduces the risk of software obsolescence and ensures that healthcare organizations can continue to use and maintain.

And, if you are also looking for open-collaboration opportunities for your projects then you can get started with us! Just book a free consultation call for an easy walk-through.

Data Security and Privacy in Open Source

When we talk about data security in healthcare, we’re basically making sure nobody’s poking around in your medical stuff without permission. In that case, an open source centralized healthcare database allows you to implement strict access controls!

Here’s a detailed overview of key aspects of data security in open source centralized healthcare databases:

  • Rapid Security Patching: With a large and diverse community of developers and users, vulnerabilities and security issues are often identified and reported more quickly. This rapid response allows for timely security patches and updates to be developed and deployed to address potential threats.
  • Customized Security Measures: Healthcare organizations can customize the open source database to implement security measures that align with their specific needs & regulatory requirements. This includes encryption, access controls, and user authentication, among other security features.
  • Security Best Practices: Open source solutions often adhere to established security best practices. This includes following security standards and guidelines, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); which sets strict requirements for the protection of healthcare data.

Trivia: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported that 85% of all security vulnerabilities are in software applications, emphasizing the importance of timely security patching and updates.

To know more, You can set-up a call with our Data security experts and see what are the best solutions we can provide you with.

Bonus Pointer: Secure Data Transmission- Open source solutions often support secure data transmission through encryption protocols like SSL/TLS. This ensures that data is protected when it is transmitted between systems, reducing the risk of data interception.

Interoperability of Open-source Databases with existing systems

Interoperability is a crucial aspect of healthcare data management! It’s all about getting different healthcare systems and technologies to work together smoothly. Making sure it can integrate nicely with the systems that are already in place is a big deal for its success.

Here’s how open source solutions facilitate interoperability:

  • Standardized Data Formats: Open source healthcare databases often adhere to standardized data formats and exchange protocols. It makes it easier to integrate with existing healthcare systems. Common standards include HL7 (Health Level Seven) for healthcare data exchange and DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) for medical imaging.
  • FHIR Integration: Many open source healthcare solutions support Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), an emerging standard for healthcare data exchange. FHIR is designed to be developer-friendly and is gaining widespread adoption in the healthcare industry.

Insights: FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is like the universal translator for healthcare data. It’s a standard that helps different health systems and devices communicate with ease, making data exchange more accessible and efficient. Basically, It’s a new trending language in healthcare tech.

Reach out to us, if you have any query about FHIR integration and want an extra hand on it.

  • Cross-Integration: The open source community includes a wide range of healthcare IT professionals and developers who actively work on improving interoperability. Collaboration within this community results in open source solutions that are designed with interoperability in mind.

Trivia: According to a survey by Healthcare Innovation, 88% of healthcare executives believe that interoperability leads to improved patient outcomes.

  • APIs and Web Services: It typically provides application programming interfaces (APIs) and web services that allow other healthcare systems to interact with them. These APIs enable data sharing and integration with electronic health record (EHR) systems, medical devices, and other healthcare applications.

Case studies of successful open-source Healthcare Database

You know what’s amazing, here? There are some open-source healthcare databases and systems out there that have done a great job in making healthcare data better. Right now they are the heroes in the healthcare tech-world.

Here are a few case studies of successful open-source healthcare databases:

OpenMRS (Open Medical Record System):

It is a widely used open-source electronic health record (EHR) platform that has made a significant impact on healthcare. It has been deployed in more than 50 countries and serves as the foundation for various healthcare initiatives.

For example, in Rwanda, the Rwinkwavu District Hospital implemented OpenMRS to digitize and streamline its healthcare records. This initiative resulted in improved patient care, accurate record-keeping, and real-time data access for healthcare providers.

VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture)

Used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While not open source in the traditional sense, the VA has released an open-source version of VistA, called “ OSEHRA VistA,”.

It has gained a strong open-source community. The VA’s adoption of an open-source approach has allowed for collaborative development and extensive customization. This case demonstrates how open-source principles can be applied to proprietary systems, enhancing flexibility and interoperability.

OpenEHR:

An open-source specification for the creation of electronic health records. It provides a standardized approach to structuring clinical information. One noteworthy case study is the implementation of OpenEHR in Australia’s Digital Health Infrastructure, known as My Health Record. OpenEHR enables the structured storage of patient data, improving data exchange and interoperability between healthcare providers. It supports secure data sharing and patient engagement.

OHDSI (Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics)

It develops and maintains the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership Common Data Model (OMOP-CDM), an open-source database model for healthcare data. OHDSI’s work has been instrumental in enabling large-scale, real-world data analytics for healthcare research. The community-driven nature of OHDSI has led to its success in supporting a global network of researchers and healthcare institutions.

Trusted Vendor-Neutral Archive (VNA):

While not an EHR system, VNAs are open-source solutions for managing and archiving medical imaging data, such as: X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. Examples like the Orthanc Project demonstrate the success of open-source VNAs. Orthanc is used by healthcare institutions and radiology departments to store, manage, and exchange medical images, contributing to interoperability.

These case studies demonstrate the many applications of open-source healthcare databases and systems, ranging from EHR platforms to data standards.

Final Thoughts On Healthcare Database

So, in a nutshell, the world of healthcare is changing fast, and we need an open-source centralized healthcare database — that’s pretty clear. Healthcare data is the lifeblood of the industry, driving patient care, research, and administrative processes.

A unified, open source approach to healthcare data management offers a multitude of benefits, from improving patient care and efficiency.

The importance of healthcare data in today’s world is undeniable. Isn’t it? Also, I see it as a backbone of evidence-based medical practices and playing a crucial role in monitoring and responding to public health emergencies.

So, Healthcare providers considering implementing an open source centralized healthcare database must consider these aspects whilst proceeding.

Book a free consultation call today.

And if you are stuck anywhere or need any sort of idea on getting started! Remember, TheCodeWork has got your back. Don’t hesitate to reach us.

Originally published at https://thecodework.com on November 8, 2023.

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TheCodeWork

TheCodeWork is a team of innovative problem solvers, who look into various aspects of business and build solutions to simplify them with tech.