Critical Analysis Of Using Open Source Software Computer Science Essay

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Heales Medical Ltd (Heales) provides Occupational Health services for organizations and industries of any size. "Heales provides a wide range of services such as pre-employment screening, Long-term Sickness Management and advisory service." Heales wants to develop an online integrated patient management application. This application is intended for Heales staffs and clients. Heales had four separate applications. These could not combine with each other and ran under Microsoft OS with no Internet. These were many problems in data integration and consistency and licensing costs for OS are high. Therefore, users are ready to change new application which would solve existing problems.

(Refer from www.heales.com and

"Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

An explanation of open source software used and why it was chosen

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Online integrated management application was developed by Java Class and JSP (Java Script Pages). This application had a number of Java Class and JSP. Classes were organized into three types, action, data access and data transfer objects. "Action is classes which contain methods for pre-processing forms." The purpose of data access is to query and update the database and classes contain methods for database. "Data transfer objects are classes for encapsulating data and to aid data transfer to JSP/HTML pages." JSP contains a number of pages for medical cases, user and application administration and etc. There are a lot of open source, freeware and proprietary software to develop this application. For Heales Medical Ltd, "cost saving was the primary criterion." Therefore, developers chose Java Class and JSP to develop this application. Java Class is the popular programming software and JSP is popular web development software. Both Java Class and JSP are open source software and freely available from the Internet. SunJava provides the source code for inspection and modification and releases new version. User can freely download new version from the Internet. Both Java Class and JSP are no cost for acquisition and no licensing fees for developers and users.

Word Count: 200

(Refer from: www.java.sun.com and

"Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

A summary of how the application was used in the organization

The new application was an online integrated patient management application using open source software. Heales staffs, client organizations and practitioners used this application. It was an online database application and clients could access the application via any browsers. This application was intended to manage medical records and related information. Employees, clients and practitioners can get the information from online and manage the information in this application. For online, security and authentication are very important. In this application, security issues are available. This application could also share with other client organization.

Heales had four existing applications before developing new application. Goldmine and Harris ran on separate PC at Heales' head office and OHSSYS and Cohort were run at the offices of different clients. "Goldmine was a contact management application and Harris was to provide additional functionality for managing and tracking open cases." Both OHSSYS and Cohort were medical records management applications for Heales' clients. These could not integrate with each other and ran under Microsoft OS with no intranet or the Internet. In existing applications, data were only accessible from the server. In new application, database was built at online. Therefore, data were accessible everywhere and every time from online. Users could upload and download data from this application. In new/server architecture, updates could be managed from centrally.

This application was used to provide case management for a history of medical problems and a record of consultation and interventions. Each medical practitioner had their own caseload for client companies and employees they are responsible.

This application recorded daily management service which serves as a timesheet application and produced diary for all Heales Medical staffs. It supported performance management information for users and could also make the analysis of existing data. Therefore this application is important for client, occupational practitioners and employees.

Word Count: 300

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(Refer from: "Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

A critical analysis of the success (or failure) of the open source software used in the application

"Online integrated patient management application was developed by University of Hertfordshire’s Software Development Services and funded by Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant. KTP is provided by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)."

("Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

This application is using in Heales Medical Ltd. Now, it is a successful application and benefits for all employees, client organizations and occupational health practitioners. Why is it successful?

We analyze the online integrated application with three points of view, developing the application, cost saving and user.

Developing the application

Heales had existing software application called Goldmine, OHSSYS, Cohort and Harris application before implementing new application. They were run under Microsoft OS and no Internet for users. "Harris application was enhanced to Internet technology and a commercially viable relational database" It is developed by open source software, MySQL but it had risks in demonstrating key features and the commercial value. When the new application was implemented, developers studied pilot application called Harris as lessons learned and made to get more accurate planning, centralized support and low cost for a more ambitious integrated application.

This new application was developed by Java Class and JSP (Java Script Pages). Both Java and JSP are open source software and can freely download from the Internet. Java is very popular in open source programming and JSP is well-known web development application. SunJava provides source code for both java and JSP and releases new versions. This new application was intended for use by Heales own staff, clients and practitioners.

Users can access the new application via any web browsers using broadband networks, mobile 3G or wireless access and fiber. This application records medical data for employees and a history of medical problems. Occupational health practitioners can manage medical records and related information from online. Security is very important in managing and using the application from online. In this application, security and authentication is available for users.

"The new application provides online referral and management access to common data such as case actions, sickness absence data and employment history."

("Moving Occupational Health Forward"

from http://www.lambethpct.nhs.uk/documents/807.pdf)

This application also provides diary management application for all Heales Medical staff and all updates can be management centrally. It supports performance management for analysis of data.

Using this application improved management and delivery of occupational health services for clients, practitioners and employees and then reduced the time off work amount significantly. Before using this application, Heales staff and practitioners had much stress within the workplace. This application supports the tools to improve assessment and to solve the problems of stress.

The main source for these open source software were SourceForge.net and freshmeat.net portals. "SourceForge.net has better quality software although freshmeat.net has a very active developer group. SourceForge.net provides insights on the quality and quantity of information for open source projects."

(Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

"SourceForge (www.sourceforge.net) is the largest repository of Open Source projects available on the Internet."

("The ecology of F/OSS software development" written by K. Healy and A. Schussman)

Therefore the quality of application is improved by SourceForge.net and freshmeat.net.

Cost Saving

Company decides the new application would be web based version and client could access the application via any web browsers. They anticipated the cost savings in finance including licensing cost and update cost. Therefore, they used the open source software, Java Class and JSP (Java Script Pages) to develop this application. The company got profits in acquisition, updating and licensing for developers and clients. Open source provides the source code for inspection and modification. It is the advantage for open source but it is a little importance for Heales because cost is primary criterion. Source codes are not required to modify in Heales's project.

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For the users, company had time-consuming and cost in training because of the new application. Many of users used Microsoft Office and needed to adapt to Open Office. Many adjustment issues happened because the user expected the same functionality and cannot change to new application. Firstly, users had occurred inconveniences in using this application such as recording the data, data transfer and formatting the documents. Some users assumed that open source software are inferior and are useful only to cut costs.

For example, "if a document gets corrupted, their first impulse is to blame open-source."

("Open source software in an occupational health application: the case of Heales Medical Ltd.," written by F. Tiangco, A. Stockwell, J. Sapsford, A. W. Rainer, and E. Swanton)

Complexity of setting up the user environment and user training cost were the disadvantages of open source software. Later, users are familiar with new application and satisfy the system because this application gives many benefits for users.

Conclusion

Online integrated patient management application using open source software is benefits for the company in developing the system and cost saving but for the user, it is inconvenience in first time. Later, users know that the new application give many advantages for them. Therefore, online integrated management application developed by "University of Hertfordshire’s Software Development Services and funded by Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant" is successful for Heales Medical Ltd.