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  Thought Experiment: Science as an Open Source Project
Subject:   Open Source Medicine
Date:   2002-07-23 06:39:54
From:   reggoboy
I'd like to see Open Source apply to the Medical community.

The fact that you can go to 10 different doctors and get 10 different prognoses is not, I don't think, an indication of diversity but rather an indication of a dearth of information combined with the unwillingness to say "I really don't know".

And the fact that there are some doctors out there that have working solutions to medical problem X but that 99% of the medical community (and, hence, 99% of the public) doesn't know about it indicates a real lack of communication. There should be a central CVS for medical info, and when a doctor finds a "cure", he checks it in. Sure, you'd have to extend CVS to support peer-review, confidence factors, risk, etc. But it could work very nicely.

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  • Open Source Medicine
    2002-07-23 10:42:24  vdbroek [View]

    I think you can expand this open source featur on two other topics in medicine:
    1 put your lectures on the net, let other specialists comment on it or learn from it
    2 research protocols in early stage of development or already working can also be placed on the net, for peer review, information to collegues or patients who can take part in the project.
    Other suggestions??
    • Open Source Medicine
      2003-10-27 21:26:11  anonymous2 [View]

      I am happy to see that others are thinking along these lines too…

      My thought is along the lines of folk or alternative treatments which have amazing results but don’t have the fantastical funding to get FDA approval. For example, illnesses like cancer have very limited FDA and AMA “approved treatments” because of the lack of statistical data (clinical trials) to show effectiveness. There is a similar story of intellectual property rights that spawned the open software movement, in medicine it is the drug patens, the huge drug manufacturers are the only ones who can afford the vast amounts of $$ to get their very valuable drugs approved. Herbal treatments and therapies (such as acupuncture) wait in the wings, because there is no product to sell, though they are often quite effective and usually as safe or safer than prescription drugs.

      And like the software industry, for the person who can add value to a commodity (in this case administering an herb or attend a homebirth) there is a good living to be made. For the consumer there are additional cost-effective options available.

      The question is obviously, we are dealing with the lives of human beings, who will bear the risks, who will keep us safe? The answer is a simple one (with a lot of complex issues just below the surface) there are thousands of people in the US today accessing alternative treatments for childbirth to Hospice and everything in between, people willing to take responsibility for their own lives and health. These adventurers are cut from the same cloth of the early hackers who were willing to compile their own kernels and write drivers when none existed. This is not the path for everyone but early adopters stand ready to create a wave on a scale that will make Linux look like just like another computer operating system

      Perhaps a software program similar to Bugzilla, with some relatively minor modifications, made publicly available could allow lay health practitioners and people treating themselves to track effectiveness of their treatments and allow others to see what type of results people are getting from various treatments. As treatments and therapies show promise, perhaps some even public money could be spent testing and experimenting for the public good (now you know I am an idealist).