Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What does OPEN mean to you?

Lately, we have been hearing from people tha they are confused by what OPEN means in the world of technology. So here is a little explanation of what OPEN really is.

  • open source: a program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit. If an EHR goes open source, then the creators share it with others who then copy the original code and UI design, improve it, put their improvements back into the pool and share some more. Eventually, most open source EHR's projects turn into commercial open source product as the project matures.
  • open standards: relying on rules that are widely used, consensus based, published and maintained by recognized industry standards organizations. These organizations decide the standards that you should follow (even if you didn't have enough say on it) so that everyone drives on the same side of the road. HTML, Bluetooth, and hundreds of other technologies are possible today because of open standards.
  • open access: developers of open access programs publish APIs (application programming interfaces) that make it easy for you to get to the data on your platform. Mrecord's EHR, Google maps, Twitter are all great examples.
  • open infrastructure: Amazon's cloud is an example of this. Amazon builds the pipes and allow people to rent them to build their own systems on. No servers to buy or run.
  • open architecture: A system (hardware or software) where people can learn how it works and then build things to plug in to extend it. The IBM PC had an open architecture, which meant that people could build sound cards or other devices to plug in (without asking IBM's permission).
So now you have it, all that OPEN means today. When you evaluate your next technology provider be sure to ask -- "How OPEN are you?"

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