OpenICE : Opensource Software in Healthcare Series – 3

  • Name: OpenICE
  • Category: Integrated Clinical Environment
  • Programming Language: Compatible with any java-capable computer running OpenICE software
  • Major user(s): The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy requested testing of OpenICE for Ebola care in 2014.[1]

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Opensource platforms present an opportunity for medical facilities with limited budgets to better leverage existing resources and ultimately provide a better standard of care. OpenICE is slightly different than most open-source medical applications in that it provides a venue to develop an integrated clinical environment by connecting medical devices. The project started with preliminary research in 2004 using funding from the Department of Defense, National Institute of Health, and others, and has been officially under development since October 2012.

OpenICE was developed using the Integrated Clinical Environment standard ASTM 2761-09(2013) in order to provide software device adapters for a wide variety of medical peripherals, including patient monitors, ventilators, and anesthesia machines, amongst others.[2]It operates as a distributed system platform that connects different network nodes together, that can range from:

  • Medical devices found in an Operating Room or an Intensive Care Unit.
  • Blackbox recording applications (data logging).
  • Clinical decision support applications and pharmaceutical systems.
  • External interfaces to other health information systems (HITs).[3]

OpenICE allows users to convert a wide variety of medical device data into a common protocol and exchange this data with clinical applications on different machines. A java-capable PC running the OpenICE Supervisor software client connects the Device Simulator with device adapters that connect directly with medical devices. The Supervisor pulls this data in and puts it all in the same domain and patient contexts.

[Read About OpenMRS: ]


OpenICE allows for functionality in a wide variety of settings that may have different interoperability or security requirements. This functionality serves to improve medical care by coordinating the different devices and providing a much more complete view of a given patient’s health status.

OpenICE is supported by a variety of organizations and institutions, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the FDA, the FCC, Intel, GE, IEEE, Philips, DocBox, US Department of Defense, Qualcomm, and a variety of other well-known entities.[4] With this level of support behind the project, OpenICE will likely become a key player, if not the standard, for open source device integration. The potential growth in this arena is huge, given the tremendous gains that are being made with the advancement of the medical Internet of Things (mIoT). The OpenICE website also has videos, blogs, a community discussion forum, and extensive documentation to help users navigate use of the platform.


Data from medical devices, such as patient monitors, requires data validation before it can be stored within an EHR and currently, with OpenICE, this is a manual process. It may require the use of an additional validation app to acquire the vital signs and compare them across multiple sources in order to categorize the data as determined upon the likelihood of accuracy based upon standard deviation measures.[5]

There is also still much concern about the threat that using open-source device integration may give rise to additional security vulnerabilities, although current experimentation is showing that by using an authentication framework as the foundation for a comprehensive ICE security architecture can protect against many of the potential threats.[6]

[Read About OpenMRS: ]

The Future

OpenICE continues to enjoy extensive support and development from many individuals, groups and organizations. There are many additional components and advancements under development.



[1]Goldman, J.M. (2015). Medical device plug-and-play interoperability standards and technology leadership. US Army Medical Research and Material Command.

[2] MDPnP. (n.d.). OpenICE Prototype: A new, open, interoperable medical device clinical research platform.

[3] OpenICE User Introduction (n.d.). OpenICE.

[4] MedPnP. (n.d.). Ebola Response.

[5]Goldman, J.M. (2015). Medical device plug-and-play interoperability standards and technology leadership. US Army Medical Research and Material Command.

[6]Cheng, L, Li, Z., Zhang, Y., Zhang, Y., & Lee, I. (2017). Protecting interoperable clinical environment with authentication. ACM SigBED, 14(2), 34-43.

OpenICE: Opensource Software in healthcare series - 3
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OpenICE: Opensource Software in healthcare series - 3
OpenICE developed using the Integrated Clinical Environment provides a venue to develop an integrated clinical environment by connecting medical devices.
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ZH Healthcare
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