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This page provides a brief overview of the OSCAR system, describing the Open Source Philosophy used by OSCAR, OSCAR's history, and the OSCAR core team.

The Open Source Philosophy

"Contribute to Benefit Others"

The basic idea behind open source is simple: when programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, adapt it, fix it, without the constraint of copyrights and patents. Compared to the slow pace of conventional software development, development of open source software can happen at an astonishing speed!

This rapid, collaborative, evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must rely on a ‘black box’ of code. Benefits of open source software include increased security, ability to guard against viruses, and adaptability to grow the software with the organization. Open source software is more than cost-free -- it offers freedom. The open source approach promotes rapid software innovation, adaptation, reliability and quality through open peer-reviewed “evidence based” evolution of source code. There is evidence of a growing open source community in health care and it is receiving proactive support in the European Union and other countries.


OSCAR History

In 1988, David Chan developed a DOS-based program called MUFFIN (McGill University Family Folder Information Network) while at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. This was one of the first programs developed according to the philosophy of ‘Open Source,’ software with source code that can be freely used, changed and redistributed in the interest of collaboration and progress.

Originally designed with the objective of introducing a low-cost, computerized medical record system to primary care clinics, the system was customized to meet the specification of Provincial Health Care Programs. MUFFIN embodied a problem-oriented, patient-centred and episode-oriented philosophy in its development, implementation and evolution. It was the beginning of something unprecedented in primary care informatics -- the beginning of OSCAR.

In 2000, prototype programming began and funding was pursued. In 2001, OSCAR’s current capabilities and applications were becoming a reality. After only 14 months of intense programming, OSCAR was launched at its first large clinic site on April 15, 2002. Dr. Chan’s visionary leadership inspired the programming team to produce a dynamic, interactive software at the leading edge of medical informatics and open source clinical software. In just 2 ½ years, OSCAR was brought from conception to completion, with an official release of version 1.0 on November 17, 2002.

OSCAR Core Team

Dr. David Chan ------------- OSCAR Developer

Trudy Chiswell ------------- Trainer, technical writer, project manager

Martin Li Yi------------------ Lead programmer, overall program structure developer

Tony Leung ------------------ Programmer, provincial billing specialist, reporting tool developer

Jay Gallagher --------------- Programmer, webmaster

Musie Habtemichael ------- Hardware / network technician


Software License
  OSCAR software is copyright © 2002 McMaster University.
  You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU
  General Public License version 2 as published by the Free Software
  This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT
  ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
  See the GNU General Public License for more details.
  This software was created under contract to McMaster University.
  To purchase support or enhancements for this software, contact:
  Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street
  West, Hamilton, Ontario Canada L8N 3Z5.



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