Free Software would work fine for Medical Doctors too


I had the privilege to go and give a talk on Free Software to the medical doctors and medical students at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology on Saturday. The talk was organized by Dr. Biju Soman who is an ardent GNU/Linux user. There were between 30-40 people who attended the talk and we distributed GNU/Linux cds to those who committed to try it out. It was very interesting to note that most people were very eager to try it out and I had to field a barrage of intelligent questions from the crowd.

Doctors have been a very difficult community to reach out to mostly because we seldom get a chance to mingle with the medical community unless of course when you are taken sick. This opportunity at SCTIMST opened up because of the dedicated work of Dr. Biju Soman. I personally wonder sometimes if I would put the same kind of effort that he is putting had I been in his position. I am not talking about the effort that he is putting to organize meetings but rather his efforts in promoting Free Software.

He has been trying relentlessly to identify and learn to use Free Software replacements for the proprietary applications that people have been traditionally using in his areas of study. He has been focusing on two specific areas - GIS and Statistics. For GIS he is painstakingly learning GRASS and QGIS (Free Software replacements for ESRI ArcGIS and ArcInfo) and for statistics he is learning R-Project (Free Software replacement for SPSS). It is not that he does not have any problems but he has been overcoming each of these problems one by one. What surprises me is that he does this mostly without any help from the community except perhaps the odd question that he asks me once in a while.

I was very happy to hear from him when I saw him at the institution that he has mostly moved to Free Software except in rare occasions. What he has proved is that Free Software does not just work for IT professionals but that it works for medical doctors too.

Can you recommend any Hospital Information System, that could be used for a hospital? Will it be user friendly and easy to use at multiple points ?

Thanks, very interesting site - though not exactly what I had in mind.

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