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What Does Healthcare Need from FOSS programmers

Submitted by Akshay S Dinesh (@asdofindia) on Sunday, 3 February 2019

Technical level: Intermediate

Abstract

Programmers make impact by solving real world problems. The reason why there are not many successful software startups in health tech is because of challenges in understanding and estimating the magnitude of needs in healthcare, fear of working on complex problems, uncertainities surrounding regulations, and so on. In this talk I will discuss various pain points in the use of technology in routine healthcare delivery, lay out my take on the hard problems that can be solved (only?) by FOSS programmers and try to inspire young programmers to take up hard but impactful work as their life mission.

Outline

I will start with the pain points in healthcare delivery. The journey of a patient through healthcare systems is kind of well known. But there are at least two parallel journeys. One is that of data (medical records). The other is the journey of a healthcare provider through the healthcare system. None of these three journeys are pain-free. And there are enough things that can be improved through software alone to keep good FOSS programmers interested, even for FOSS loving entrepreneurs.

The data journey is about user interfaces, capture and storage, retrieval, identification, authentication, authorization, privacy, error-proofing, consent, ownership, structure, form, formats, standards, exchange, APIs, communication, and so on.

The jouney of the healthcare provider is about efficiency, optimization, speed, accuracy, learning, teaching, discussion, collaboration, referals, empathy, follow-up, handling stress, handling other emotions, remembering things, academics, sharing, clinical skills, data munging, and so on.

All the words I have used in the previous two sentences have deep meaning for programmers. I will describe in my slides on how. I will describe what is correct and what is counter-productive. I will also be describing the importance of FOSS in many of these issues.

I hope to end my talk when the audience cannot wait to start building solutions for many of these.

Requirements

Patience to work on complex challenges and spirit to innovate

Speaker bio

I am a practising medical doctor with deep interest in technology. I am a programmer. My current focus is on improving healthcare through innovation in primary care and public health. I fight for digital rights and advocate free software. I deeply believe in the value of interdisciplinary thinking and work.

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