News

Open Source Solutions For Public Health Case Reporting and COVID-19

The United States is continuing its slow emergence from a nation-wide shut down imposed to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Most states have started to reopen, with bars, restaurants, and many workplaces starting to fill. As people begin to spend more time together again, it is critically important that public health agencies do everything they can to help prevent further spread of the infection and continue to monitor the level of infection within the population. Data is an important tool that public health has to understand what is going on in the country. Years of limited government investment and neglect of current systems has limited public health's ability to meet the challenges of managing both localized outbreaks and pandemics.

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Changing the world with open source: GNOME president shares her story

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Nuritzi Sanchez saw the powerful impact software can make on the world. Yet, unlike many others who were also steeped in the tech industry, her journey has taken her into the world of open source, where she is contributing to that impact. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in International Relations, she became a founding team member of open source computing company Endless OS, served three terms as president and chair of GNOME's board of directors, and in February 2020 was hired as the senior open source program manager (OSPM) at GitLab. I am impressed by this talented woman, and I reached out to her to learn more about her and her work. I believe you will also be fascinated with her journey after reading our interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity.

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And We Thought Pandemics Were Bad...Time to Examine The Threat from Microplastics

The ocean full of microplastics, and fish are as well. They're in our drinking water. Indeed, "There's no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won't have microplastics," Professor Janice Brahney told The New York Times. Dr. Brahney was coauthor on a recent study that found microplastics were pervasive even in supposedly pristine parts of the Western U.S. They estimated that 1,000 tons of "plastic rain" falls every year onto protected areas there; 98% of soil samples they took had microplastics. Dr. Brahney pointed out that, because the particles are both airborne and fine, "we're breathing it, too." She admitted: "It's really unnerving to think about it."

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US Senate Releases Draft Future Pandemic Preparedness Plan - Asks for Feedback

On June 10, 2020 the US Senate released a white paper titled "Preparing for the Next Pandemic" under the signature of Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The white paper has five recommendations to address future pandemics based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and the past 20 years of pandemic planning. "The five recommendations...along with a series of questions at the end of this white paper, are intended to elicit recommendations that Congress can consider and act on this year," Senator Alexander said in a statement, adding that "I am inviting comments, responses, and any additional recommendations for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider. This feedback will be shared with my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican." This feedback from the public will be accepted until June 26, 2020... Read More »

Artificial intelligence in medicine: Is the genie out of the bottle?

It is probably a given that artificial intelligence (AI) will become an integral part of healthcare delivery and of our public health infrastructure. What is not a given is that we will easily reach that point, and maintain progress in a way that maximizes its effectiveness in achieving the goals we have come to expect of it – efficient and improved healthcare and public health systems. In other words, making the health of people better in a cost-effective way. Responsible commentators have already begun to question the value of AI in medicine.

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Using Digital Ledger Technology To Put Physicians Back In Control

Our healthcare system is failing. It costs more and has overall worse outcomes than any other industrialized nation. It is failing because those on the front lines of healthcare - the physicians and patients- have no say in how the system is run. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) - otherwise known as blockchain - has the ability to change that. DLT allows for secure direct peer to peer (In healthcare this means patient to doctor and doctor to doctor) communication and data transfer. No more storage of private information and transactions on centralized data capturing systems like electronic health records platforms.

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Pandemic Stress Test: The Open Source Cloud Is Up To The Challenge

We all know that modern business has become a rapid-response environment. Never before have we had the number of IT resources at the tips of our fingers as we have today, and most of them are enabled by the cloud. When we refer to "the cloud", we may be talking about several computing concepts, but typically the cloud consists of a set of remotely-hosted resources and services, from web pages to mobile apps or even traditional desktop applications. The cloud continuously transforms our connectivity on a global scale. It can be found everywhere, from our vehicles to our phones and even to our watches. From what we are witnessing right now, the cloud may ultimately safely carry numerous organizations through a global crisis.

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OpenMRS Receives Mozilla Open Source Support Program Award for COVID-19 Response

When the OpenMRS community learned about the COVID-19 Solutions Fund set up by Mozilla as a part of their ongoing Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS) in early April, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to support our community's COVID-19 response. The idea at the time? Build out a suite of science-based COVID-19 tools that could also be used for future disease outbreaks - and make them easily available to people looking for a way to manage COVID-19 patient data and surveillance efforts. OpenMRS Inc became one of 163 applicants from 30 countries that MOSS received within two months. We are honored to be among the six awardees to date, receiving a $49,754 award that will advance the COVID-19 Response Squad's work over the next three months.

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Open Source Solutions for Immunization Tracking and COVID-19

The United States is starting to emerge from a nation-wide shut down imposed to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Most states are starting to reopen, and while higher education will likely stay largely remote this fall, primary and secondary schools are expected to reopen as the economy tries to get back on its feet. As both children and adults begin to spend more time together again, it is important to understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on current immunization practices and services, and how open source software is being leveraged to keep the population safe.

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Hiding Our Heads in the Sand - Why the US is Unprepared for Pandemics and Disasters

A new report from the Trust for America's Health minces no words. President and CEO John Auerbach charges: COVID-19 has shined a harsh spotlight on the country's lack of preparedness for dealing with threats to Americans' well-being. Years of cutting funding for public health and emergency preparedness programs has left the nation with a smaller-than-necessary public health workforce, limited testing capacity, an insufficient national stockpile, and archaic disease tracking systems - in summary, twentieth-century tools for dealing with twenty-first-century challenges.

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