Open-Source Software Is Actually More Secure for Health Care IT

Globally the sale of health care information systems is a multibillion dollar industry. The vast costs, frequent failed systems, and inability of systems to talk to each other regularly attract media comment. However policy makers still shy away from a class of software, Open Source, that could address many of these problems, because of worries about the safety and security of Open Source systems.

Now new research by the University of Warwick’s Institute for Digital Healthcare, and the Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education at UCL Medical School, finds that Open Source software may actually be more secure than its often more expensive alternatives.

Dr Carl Reynolds of UCL’s Centre for Health Informatics and Multiprofessional Education said: “Software bought or otherwise distributed under a licence which require it to come bundled with the source code and the right to freely edit, reuse, and share it is called free or open source software. Such a licensing arrangement leaves the buyer in a very strong position when compared with the usual proprietary licences.

The buyer is less prone to lock-in, where a buyer loses the ability to switch software products because of the use of proprietary data formats or restrictive licensing conditions. When the buyer chooses an open or free licence he or she can take the code to a rival code developer if they offer a better deal. If the code is in the public domain, and the user and programmer community are engaged, then the buyer can profit from more people inspecting and fixing the code leading to higher quality source code and in turn software.” Continue reading…

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