13 Nov TeraMedica embraces open source project
Milwaukee, Wis. – The drive to make healthcare information technology interoperable across systems is taking place with open source applications, and a medical information technology company headquartered here is contributing to the undertaking.
TeraMedica is lending its expertise to developing an open source digital imaging and communications toolkit for the healthcare industry. Specifically, the expertise of Damien Evans, lead architect for TeraMedica.
“Upon joining the healthcare IT industry, I was suprised at how closed and proprietary applications are,” Evans said. “Many [picture archiving and communication systems] and DICOM applications fail to integrate well outside of their department, or conform to the standards and specifications as well as they should.
“This negatively affects interoperability, the ability for customers to make purchasing decisions, manage long term data and, ultimately, patient care.”
The toolkit, DCM4CHE, is a collection of open source applications and utilities for the healthcare enterprise. These applications are developed in the Java programming language for performance and portability, and have been under development by a worldwide team of engineers led by the well-known developer Gunter Zeilinger since 2001.
The DCM4CHE project focuses on implementation of the digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) standard developed by the American College of Radiology, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (ACR-NEMA), and The Radiological Society of North America for communications between medical imaging devices.
DICOM is a set of standards established for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting medical images, and has been widely adopted by hospitals. It enables the integration of scanners, servers, workstations, printers, and network hardware from multiple vendors into a picture archiving and communication system.
Evans is one of the developers registered with the DCM4CHE project and has helped with the project’s software code, documentation, user support, and issue tracking systems management. In the past, Evans’ involvement has been mainly on his own time, but TeraMedica now will dedicate a percentage of his time and other resources towards the success of the initiative.
Located on a Website called SourceForge, a development and download repository of open source code and applications, DCM4CHE products are used by many institutions, projects, and vendors involved in integrating healthcare enterprises worldwide.
Some observers have said that healthcare technology leaders – like Madison-based Epic Systems Corp. and GE Healthcare – could play a role in advocating for standardization.
“It makes good sense for the healthcare industry to have multiple vendors collaborating on something as fundamental as a DICOM toolkit,” said Jim Prekop, CEO of TeraMedica. “This is a continuation of our vision of open enterprise standards based architecture in healthcare IT.”
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