The Rise of Open Source in Public Health Technology: 5 Trends

Open source technology offers public authorities a pathway to more agile, collaborative, and timely innovation. As we wrote a few weeks ago, technology innovation in public health lags behind medical innovation. Given pressing issues like COVID-19, monkeypox outbreaks, natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, and widening health disparities that undermine social determinants of health, the need for flexible, scalable, and cost-effective software solutions has never been greater.

We have been doing this for a long time now, and the team at PathCheck is excited to see several trends that are accelerating the adoption of open source technology in public health: 

Interoperability Standards
The CDC data modernization projects recently mandated state health departments improve data and reporting standards. Open frameworks like FHIR and openEHR facilitate this goal by enabling easier and more secure health data exchange between platforms and apps, fueling more scalable population health management and personalized care.

Health Equity & Access Solutions
In response to widening health gaps, groups like the Open Source Medical Supplies have created open access design blueprints for medical devices to improve care access in disadvantaged regions. Additional open tools like automated eligibility enrollment, patient engagement dashboards, and multilingual symptom checker bots also aim to break down barriers to care.

Advanced Data Analytics
As the volume of real-time public health data surges, open frameworks for data mining, neural networks, geospatial mapping, and more enable robust analytics to uncover localized insights and launch targeted interventions by health authorities worldwide.

Pandemic Preparedness & Response
The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the critical need for open source public health solutions that enable coordinated global response. Open source solutions for pandemic response is nothing new for PathCheck. Our innovations, such as exposure notification apps, infectious disease modeling, vaccination verification software, and more, expanded capabilities for public health authorities to respond in kind to the pandemic. 

As PathCheck Foundation continues to lead impactful collaboration in public health technology, the swelling adoption of privacy-preserving exposure notification highlights what open, ethical data sharing can achieve. It is exciting to see flexible open source tools assisting overburdened health authorities nationwide as they balance disease response with growing demands to address widening health disparities.

While progress has been made, greater innovation is still needed to deliver health equity. As an agile nonprofit centered on public health technology access, we know that open collaboration that empowers communities holds the key. We are committed partners in this work - striving to broker connections between health authorities, researchers, governments, and marginalized populations to build trust and make health innovations more responsive to people's needs.