Project Information and Resources

Below, you will find more information about the project and its history.  You can also access the technical resources for getting started with Neuron as an end-user, implementer, or developer.  In addition, our sponsor has compiled a collection of resources for the Tolven Platform, on which Neuron is built.


Project History

More Project Information

Neuron Interactive Timeline - Checkout the history of this project courtesy of Timeline.js from Knight Labs

In July of 2010, the Roberts-Hoffman team began building an inpatient EHR system on top of the open source Tolven Platform.  The first modules of that system went into production use in January 2011, became ONC 2011 certified in March of 2012, and facilitated successful attestation to Meaningful Use the following June.  Throughout this period, our engineers continued creating and implementing clinical functions in close association with the clinical team at our partner facility.

We set out to make a system that would handle both inpatient and ambulatory care in an intuitive way.  To this end, our team has extended the Tolven Platform and developed modules, which all integrate with the longitudinal patient record that is the heart of Neuron Health.   Every piece of clinical data captured in the course of patient care can be viewed in an encounter context or as part of the patient’s continuum.

Neuron includes the core of a configurable interface system that facilitates the exchange of coded and discrete clinical data.  Enhanced interface modules have been created so that Neuron is ready to communicate with Mirth channels, which will allow a developer nearly unlimited flexibility in data exchange.

Roberts-Hoffman has bundled many of the clinical modules and core enhancements that are part of the production EHR system, and released these under the GPL v3 open source license.  Please feel free to download, explore, and make use of the tools in the Neuron Health project.  Also, we’d love to hear from you if you like (or don’t like) these components.


Neuron Community

Perceptions of open source are changing.  The notion that open projects are suited for hobbyist programmers and researchers, but lack the quality, robustness, and security to support commercial operations is simply no longer valid.  The annual open source survey conducted by Black Duck Software supports this with relevant industry data.  In fact, even healthcare is beginning to embrace open source projects because they deliver quality and security.

This is where Neuron Health comes in.  Roberts-Hoffman has committed to sustaining this project and growing a community.


First, we’ve built on the proven Tolven Platform to ensure scalability and quality.   Our engineering team has worked closely with Tolven architect, John Churin, to ensure that our efforts harmonize with Tolven’s well-designed internal components.  The Neuron team is involved in developing not only functional modules, but in maintaining core components as well.


Roberts-Hoffman has built a number of end-user and technical guides and made these freely available to lower the barriers for folks who want to experiment with Neuron.  Our install guide can have you running your own instance of the system quickly.  Additionally, our engineers have made the source code for Neuron open (released under the GPL v3 license) and easily accessible on SourceForge to actively encourage developer participation.


Open Source Health

If any industry needs to realize the benefits of open source, it is healthcare.  That is why Roberts-Hoffman has sponsored the Neuron Health project.  It is a grass-roots community effort designed to stay relevant to the needs of developers and small providers.


The functional systems and the code for Neuron Health are not just open, they are accessible.  The team at Roberts-Hoffman has created extensive documentation for the end-user as well as a developer’s guide that is focused on a more technical audience.  We have invested resources to lower the barriers for users and organizations who want to try out the Neuron system.


It is a significant advantage to developers and small providers to tap into the diverse expertise of the healthcare community at large.  The team at Neuron Health is actively building connections and relationships with organizations that represent the best of participation and contribution to healthcare and open source, including, Black Duck SoftwareLexicomp, and Tolven.  Collaboration with these organizations consistently yields smart solutions.


Open source does not mean relaxed standards for security, system robustness, and quality components.  In fact, the opposite is true.  More eyes on the code reduces bugs and faults.  System components, such as the PostgreSQL database and JBoss application server, are widely adopted and have a proven track record of stability and performance.  These foundational components, through the community-focused models they employ, are available at a fraction of the cost of proprietary equivalents.


Improving the EHR

There is no single perfect EHR system; the complexity and diversity of care providers makes a purportedly “complete” system merely almost there.   We think Neuron Health is the way to improve user experience, quality data capture, and communication between systems, while making use of the EHR system you already have.

Roberts-Hoffman has successfully designed and implemented systems in healthcare for 20 years, and we have smashed all this experience and know-how into our vision for the Neuron Health community.  Solutions built with the Neuron tools can:

  • Reduce workflow complexity
  • Improve data quality and context
  • Enable electronic data exchange

Often, the largest gains can be made by the simplest changes.  For example, enabling a user to document their actions at the point of patient contact can make all the difference in the timeliness and quality of data, and the positive user perception.  Overly complex workflows force your users to skip the documentation process because they don’t have time right now, and casts a shadow on the user’s experience.  It is our mission to find these points of difficulty and build a smarter, faster, simpler user experience; to make a screen that captures the data YOU need; to exchange that information seamlessly with all connected systems in your organization.