Open Medsystems

omFor quite some time, I’ve had this crazy idea that medical device development sould be more like Linux and less like Windows. More Wikipedia, less Encyclopedia Britannica. Open, community driven, adaptive, dynamic. But medical devices aren’t typed up on crumb filled keyboards late at night. Instead, they are the product of years of investment, research, development, and clinical trials, and these are not things that can be replicated easily or shared freely. Despite some remarkable advances in minimally invasive device development, is amazing how little we collectively know about the fundamental interactions that exist between devices and the human body. The world of devices is proprietary, by necessity. But the other half of the interaction, the human body, is quite the opposite. Everyone on Earth has at least one body of their very own, yet we continue to lack fundamental data about how it works, and how it interacts with medical devices. Researchers, clinicians, industry, and regulators all have a common interest in having standardized, uniform, and freely available data on human biomechanics. While the scholarly traditions of peer reviewed research and publications have produced some welcome and necessary advances, the community at large has access to a paper thin slice of the data informing these publications. Industry probably conducts even more relevant and detailed studies in the context of developing commercial medical devices, but virtually none of this data is available to the community. Why not? In an era of social media, cloud computing, unlimited network storage, and unprecedented collaboration, why can’t the community develop clinical and imaging protocols to collect the data that everyone needs? Why can’t we collaboratively draft these protocols online? And why can’t we upload all the data we collect in a common and accessible format, so others are free to remix, reuse, reanalyze, and contribute back to the community? These are some of the questions that have been rattling around in my mind for a while, and motivated the creation of openmedsystems.org, and are the topic of my talk today at the FDA / NIH / NSF Workshop on Computer Methods for Cardiovascular Devices. A link to the slides can be found at http://aspect.openmedsystems.org/aspect-blog/openmedsystemsrockville2june2009.

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