Changing of the guard

The evolution of social networks has driven content creation forward, and we have been seeing a transition away from traditional media towards the more abundant and more creative content on the web. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, on traditional enterprise software.

I have become more and more involved in my future job at my father’s office as I get closer to an Orthodontic residency. What I have begun to notice is that nearly all of the available software tools for the enterprise have created a walled garden for their data and code. The software available to health care professionals probably includes some of the worst offenders of this closed door policy.

The software currently managing the office utilizes the SCO group’s version of Unix. It is over priced, closed sourced, it offers no ability for other programs to interface with my data, and as part of the EUL I can’t really even call my data my data unless I am pay a software engineer to fish it out for me first.

Cloud computing has become a popular buzzword lately, but I don’t think enterprises are really looking for just a move to the cloud. They want and need to change their software society. The standards for web apps are so vastly different than those currently employed in niche professional software. Web apps provide truly portable data, provide ready access to APIs, are devoid of the administrative debris seen in desktop applications, and empower people to do so much more.

The choice between the two cultures is obvious, but there still are too many obstacles currently holding many back. From my end of the spectrum…..Internet connectivity is not the same everywhere and health care data especially is bulky and difficult to transfer. Doctors are short on time and can’t spend it as early adopters patching together a reliable system from many different untested web based apps. The current programs are feature rich and have tools to handle patient education, specialized imaging, etc. Then on top of everything there is the cost of retrieving your data out of the current system, which really isn’t the major factor but all the same it doesn’t help.

At some point there is going to be enough legacy open source code to bring the freedom to the health care arena, but it is still a ways away. Right now IBM and Microsoft have begun to devote their increased attention to health care IT, so hopefully the open source community can swell up in the wake of the new direction they are taking.

Update: I like the way this post phrases things much better than my own wording on the direction that software needs to go. Specialization of software down to the core competencies of small software companies will create better products and open standards will enable the market. SaaS is a better, freer model.

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