The development of Open-eObs, a bedside observation software solution to improve hospital care, confirms the value of open source software for the UK’s South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The software was developed and tested in cooperation with hospital staff. The trust is encouraging other healthcare organisations to reuse the software and pool resources to build future versions.
This home-built approach lets the trust meet user needs exactly, according to a study by open source trade group OpenUK published last week. The development of Open-eObs also demonstrates open source projects’ flexibility by letting the trust adapt the delivery team to a new project phase.
The first version of the software was made available as open source in 2014. Code for the current version, already posted here, will soon be made available on the GitHub account of Apperta, a community interest company created by the UK’s national health service. Apperta runs the NHS’ Code4Health project, which builds and tests open healthcare solutions.
Apperta and OpusVL, the IT service provider contracted last year to continue development, are finalising a cleanup of the source code and are working to update the documentation, says Stuart J. Mackintosh, CEO of OpenVL: “Together with the original developers, we are working on a merge of various code bases. Once we have the final code merge, the repository will be placed under Apperta.”
Apperta will also manage the roadmap for future versions of Open-eObs, take care of documention and present the business case. “The Apperta Open-eObs committee is very active and meets every few weeks,” Mr Mackintosh told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. He says that Open-eObs proves that the open source approach lets NHS trusts work with professional technical service providers to design, build, deploy, and maintain healthcare applications.
Since the summer, Open-eObs is being implemented in all the trust’s hospital wards, allowing clinicians to record observations at patients’ bedsides using handheld devices. The system calculates a score, based on the UK’s National Early Warning Score, to identify and respond to patients who may be at risk of deteriorating.