[Haskell-cafe] Possible Haskell Project

wren ng thornton wren at freegeek.org
Tue Jun 2 05:18:05 EDT 2009

Tom Hawkins wrote:
> At the core, the fundamental problem is not that complicated.  It's
> just storing and retrieving a person's various health events:
> checkups, prescriptions, procedures, test results, etc.  The main
> technical challenges are database distribution and patient security.
> Both are fun problems, and our friends at Galios continue to show how
> effective Haskell is at building secure systems.
> Any thoughts?  Ideas?

Actually, it's a lot more complicated than that, albeit not for 
"technical" reasons. There's a great deal of legislation about what can 
and cannot be done with medical records: who can have access to them, 
under what circumstances, how they can be transmitted, stored, etc. This 
is more than just boilerplate code--- clinics can be audited to prove 
proper handling and can loose their licenses or worse for improper 
handling of records. Additionally, the requisite formats do require a 
lot of boilerplate code since the protocols were defined back in the 
paper age and medical legislation moves at the speed of mountains.

I worked briefly on an open-source database project for managing a 
medical clinic's records (so, not even for dealing with the public in 
any way). The technical feat isn't that difficult, as you say, but the 
human engineering involved can be quite complex--- and the human 
programming will have major effects on the design, in order to forbid 
invalid or unacceptable behavior. It's not a project to undertake 
lightly or without corporate funding.

Medical record management is a market that has very low penetration from 
the F/OSS movement, which in turn places a burden on smaller clinics, so 
I'm all for anyone who's willing to invest in an open solution :)

Live well,

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