Announcing Our Member Profile Series

Open source has become the de facto way to build common infrastructure across industries. It started in enterprise tech but today has made its way across energy, automotive and so much more because it accelerates innovation. By building common infrastructure together, companies and organizations can redistribute staff and other resources to build innovative services and necessary services on top of that common infrastructure. And, because a global community of contributors are building it, they also have a vested interest in sustaining it and do so collectively, saving millions of dollars. This model – open source software, standards and collaboration – is the only way we can be prepared for the next public health crisis. Now, more than ever, public health authorities and the health tech industry are in a position to build and sustain their common infrastructure together, saving money and lives in the process.

This is the first in our series profiling LFPH members, who are on the frontlines of technology and societal innovation in healthcare. 

Member Ratio Public Benefit Corp. believes open source software and standards can advance technology capabilities in public health organizations around the world.

Linux Foundation Public Health’s premier member, Ratio PBC, is a healthcare and government technology consultancy that helps organizations solve complex data integration challenges. Ratio was formed in response to an opportunity to partner with the non-profit Resolve To Save Lives. In the early days of COVID, Resolve To Save Lives was interested in finding ways to use technology to help support Public Health Authorities (PHAs) throughout the U.S. by providing technical and programmatic assistance on their code response programs. They were focused primarily on contact tracing and case investigation. What quickly became clear as a result of this work were the challenges and limitations in the existing model for how PHAs throughout the world build and manage software. Infrastructure is inconsistent and lacks interoperability; building and sustaining it is slow and under-resourced, and privacy has to be among the most important development considerations. 

The CEO and co-founder of Ratio, Eric Guroff, has vast experience in product management and project leadership within the healthcare-specific software industry. After seeing what was happening with COVID, Eric felt inclined to find a way to help by using the skills he developed while previously working at a healthcare technology company, building modern software and integration for moving healthcare data. He also knew he needed to be part of a bigger, industry-wide effort to dramatically change the way we build and support technology in healthcare. 

Building a Sustainable Role in the Healthcare Ecosystem 

Ratio is now actively involved in LFPH projects, particularly Cardea. Its CTO and co-founder, Jesse Cooke, holds a seat on the LFPH Technical Advisory Council (TAC) and is the TAC sponsor for Cardea. As the Cardea TAC sponsor, Jesse provides expertise and serves as a mentor to the Cardea team to promote project growth. The Ratio group looks forward to seeing the Foundation work to build a sustainable role in the healthcare ecosystem by helping to advance the technology capabilities of public health organizations in the U.S. and the world. 

Eric identified three main challenges he believes are holding the healthcare industry from overcoming limitations.

  1. In the context of the U.S., there is a challenge in the funding model around building and maintaining software. Specifically, there is a boom and bust cycle in how public health and public health software is funded, which is a challenge for sustainability and preparedness.
  2. There is a tendency for a majority of the technology not to be very open. There is a lot of technology that is proprietary and locked down by single vendors, which makes it difficult to respond quickly when there are rapidly evolving needs. 
  3. There are custom, specific and separate replications of similar systems that don’t utilize opportunities to have multiple contributors and implementations within the same system. 

Gaining New Perspectives Through LFPH Membership

Eric sees LFPH as an opportunity to overcome these challenges. LFPH provides a neutral forum for Public Health Authorities to seek advice about technology development. The community Slack has provided Ratio with access to discussions between technology experts and healthcare experts, which has allowed Ratio to gain new perspectives. Eric expressed the importance of LFPH’s role in bringing together the best of the technology minds and public health care experts to build core infrastructure systems that will help us fight future epidemics.

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