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An affordable fix for modernizing medical records

Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2009

In the push to digitize America's hospitals, Midland Memorial Hospital in Texas faced a need for information technology to replace archaic paper records, but a shortage of funds to pay for it. But Midland Chief Executive Russell Meyers found an unexpected freebie of sorts: the software used to power the electronic medical-record system of the Veterans Health Administration. Created with several billion dollars in taxpayer funds over two decades and used in more than 1,400 VA facilities, the source code is in the public domain and software developers around the world can freely build features into it. Add the cost of hardware and the services of a company that has adapted the VA software for commercial use, and Midland paid less than $7 million for a full electronic medical-record system.