At the invitation of Dr. Bruce Slater, TORCH 1.3.1 was used in five
sessions at ACP2004 in New Orleans last week
One of those sessions (the third one) was the EMR live
competition/shootout. Our next session started early Saturday morning
during the same time as the shootout so we went first in the shootout
and had to leave immediately. I haven't heard any feedback on the
competition but Dr. Slater made TORCH look good switching quickly from
templates to free text and back as the scenario unfolded. In this
situation the patient (a physician) really directed a lot of what
happened as opposed to where normally the physician has more direct
control over the questioning. It was a good experience though I would
suggest that next time the other participants not be allowed in the room
during the previous presentations. Having some idea of the "wrenches"
about to be tossed in could be helpful.
The four, TORCH only sessions were all at or very near capacity crowds.
The first was an introduction to using an EMR in general.
The second was an "under the hood" session that focused on what an EMR
does and how it is divided into functional sections.
The fourth and fifth sessions were in a hands-on lab environment where
the attendees were able to use TORCH live. Our server was a Toshiba
laptop with 256MB RAM running Fedora Core (current Debian distributions
do not detect the drive geometry correctly on this relatively new
machine) and it performed very well. All the client machines ran
Microsoft XP for the OS and IE for the browser. There were 12 machines
with 2 people per machine. The laptop also had Open Office 1.1.0 running
the slides and several other informational documents were open while it
performed it's server duties.
The audiences were all engaged and my impression was that they learned
from and enjoyed the experiences. The first two audiences were in
general, fairly new to computers or atleast the concepts of an EMR/EHR.
The fourth and fifth sessions had a prerequisite of some PC usage
knowledge required. I was very pleased with the after session comments
and discussions that I had with all participants. There was virtually NO
knowledge or understanding of open source at these sessions. This is
something that needs to be followed up in various organizations. We
have been active at AMIA, MedInfo, TEPR etc.....but we are the "geeks
talking to the geeks".
Being among these internists for four days was a wonderful experience as
I was able to discuss their unique needs and limitations. It reminded
me of why I started this whole thing in the first place.
If each of the healthcare providers on this list can make just a little
effort (I know many of you already are) to add open source to their
vocabulary at their own professional events it will help to create more
of these situations where invitations can be issued. I know Dr. Slater
has worked for some time to bring first OSCAR and now TORCH to the ACP.
This is certainly the type of outreach that OSHCA should be behind.
I want to sincerely thank Dr. Bruce Slater for sticking his neck out and
inviting me and for his hard work in getting up to speed on TORCH in a
matter of a few hours. He made the sessions and the shootout a great
I hope to see some renewed participation in TORCH. Certainly momentum
is a powerful thing and I hope this exposure will provide some new
Tim Cook, President, Open Paradigms, LLC
Organizing Chair, AMIA Open Source Working Group
Public Key at: http://www.openparadigms.com/timcook_publickey.asc
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