Open source tech has huge potential in healthcare

The technological challenges of healthcare reform offer a potentially lucrative opportunity to the estimated 5,000 open source software developers working in Oregon.

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The federal stimulus package includes billions of dollars for healthcare technology, a golden opportunity for Oregon’s burgeoning open source community.

As many as 5,000 open-source software developers work in Oregon, estimates Matt Nees, president of the Software Association of Oregon. They number nearly one-third of the total developers in Portland, a larger proportion than anywhere else in the country. Linus Torvalds, the reclusive Finnish geek god who started the open-source movement in 1991 by inventing the Linux operating system and challenging the supremacy of Microsoft’s carefully controlled code, now lives in Portland; Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki—Web pages that let users add information, the technology that allowed Wikipedia to exist—lives in Beaverton.

And open source has become big business. Microsoft, Google and IBM now dedicate departments to open-sourcing portions of their software. Last year, North Carolina-based corporation Red Hat became the first open-source software company on the S&P 500.

Read more at Willamette Week.

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