Apr 16 , 2018



OpenAPS : Opensource Software in Healthcare Series – 7



  • Name: OpenAPS
  • Category: Open Artificial Pancreas System
  • Programming Language: Multiple
  • Major user(s): Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

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OpenAPS is an open source Artificial Pancreas System project. Unlike most open source medical applications, OpenAPS is not strictly software. It is a system design that provides patients or medical device manufacturers with the knowledge to acquire the hardware and software to allow them to construct their own artificial pancreas system. Open APS relies on a set of devices to work together to monitor data, predict what will happen, and control changes by communicating issues or even administering commands to pumps. The recommended devices consist of a compatible insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitoring system (Dexcom G4 or G5, or Medtronic), a small computer, a radio stick and a battery. With these devices, OpenAPS provides documentation on how to install the software and essentially create an artificial pancreas system.

The creators emphasize that this is a do-it-yourself process, which is why you cannot simply purchase one of the systems. There is a community of users that can provide a lot of information about the closed loop system itself, as well as sharing data for research purposes.


OpenAPS was created as a way to provide a better standard of treatment for sufferers of Diabetes Type 1 by allowing them to access the artificial pancreas technology. Other researchers and medical device companies are in the process of conducting clinical trials or waiting for FDA approval, meaning there is nothing currently commercially available that is similar to this system. Often, open source applications serve as an alternative to commercial products, but not in this instance. For most patients, this is the only way for them to access this technology.[i]

The company has a very extensive and close-knit community of users, and documentation is abundant. There are many ways to access data that a new user may need to get started. This support system can make the building process much less intimidating. The site indicates that while you don’t have to be a programmer to embark on this endeavor, you will need to know basic programming functions and how to operate and troubleshoot the hardware and software.


Because OpenAPS is a do-it-yourself system, it is often implemented with little to no medical supervision. The company is very vocal about the fact that users should reference their material, speak with other users, and generally try to understand the system in a comprehensive way since if it breaks or malfunctions, the user will have to repair it themselves. Despite the considerable number of reference material and other users that could assist with this, many individuals may not feel comfortable with their level of technical knowledge to ultimately move forward with OpenAPS.

This system is not compatible with all insulin pumps, which limits its ability to serve many patients with this condition. Despite this, there are members of the community that are working to understand how to enable communication with other pump models.

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The Future

OpenAPS is currently used by over 600 people worldwide.[ii] While this is not an enormous number, considering the level of effort involved in creating and maintaining the system, it has served as a great model to demonstrate proof of concept for the technology. For those with Type 1 diabetes, it may be the best resource currently at their disposal. OpenAPS is also quite vocal about the future for this technology, indicating that the end goal is simply to provide a better quality of life for those with this condition. For this reason, specific language on their site that indicates its intention to remain open source and available to anyone who wants to use it, whether that be for research, non-profit, or commercial uses. This strategy makes it very likely that the company will be around, in some capacity, moving forward.



[i] OpenAPS. (n.d.). What is #OpenAPS?

[ii] OpenAPS. (2018, March 23). OpenAPS Outcomes.

OpenAPS : Opensource Software in Healthcare Series - 7
Article Name
OpenAPS : Opensource Software in Healthcare Series - 7
OpenAPS is an open source Artificial Pancreas System project. Unlike most open source medical applications, OpenAPS is not strictly software.
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ZH Healthcare
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