The characteristics and capabilities of the available open source health information technologies supporting healthcare: A scoping review protocol

Ather Akhlaq, Brian McKinstry, Aziz Sheikh


INTRODUCTION: Due to the many advantages of open source software (OSS), including reduced cost of licensing, more flexibility in terms of customisation and redistribution, better quality and no vendor lock-in, OSS in healthcare is increasingly gaining importance. Various open source health information technologies (OS-HITs) are continuously being designed and developed for different areas of healthcare to increase organisational efficiencies and quality of care at minimum costs. The objective of this scoping review is to identify the kinds of existing OS-HITs, their characteristics (e.g. functions) and capabilities (e.g. advantages/disadvantages) for various healthcare stakeholders (physicians and patients) and healthcare sectors (e.g. clinical, administrative).

METHODS: We will conduct a scoping review to identify the range of available OS-HITs in international literature from 1980 to September 2018. Searches will be conducted in six major international databases, namely: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature Plus, Excerpta Medica Database, Global Health, Library Information Science and Technology Abstracts, Medline and Web of Science to identify relevant published research. We will also search the Google search engine and Google Scholar for on-going and unpublished work and the grey literature. Searches will be peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers and will not be limited by methodology or language. Next, selected references will be tabulated for study characteristics by author affiliation, country of origin, the name of OS-HIT, healthcare area/sector, system requirements, stakeholders, complete solution and web link. Furthermore, functions, benefits/advantages, disadvantages and outcomes (e.g. usability) of OS-HITs will be extracted. Narrative and interpretative synthesis of data will be undertaken.

RESULTS: We will report our findings in a peer-reviewed journal.


health information technology; open source; scoping review

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