Open source medical devices for innovation, education and global health: case study of open source magnetic resonance imaging


  • L. Winter
  • R. Pellicer-Guridi
  • L. Broche
  • S.A. Winkler
  • H. Reimann
  • H. Han
  • F. Arndt
  • R. Hodge
  • S. Günyar
  • M. Moritz
  • K.M. Ettinger
  • O. de Fresnoye
  • T. Niendorf
  • M. Benchoufi


  • Management for Professionals


  • Management for Professionals 147-163


  • Today’s societies are challenged by the increasing costs of healthcare and global inequality in the availability, accessibility, appropriateness and affordability of medical technologies. There are ways to improve equality and efficiency and decrease costs in this area without fundamentally changing current health systems and business models. Many services and products are experiencing a paradigm shift toward an open source economic model that can be extended to medical technologies in a way that will intrinsically promote sustainable growth and innovations while improving education and global health. This new way of thinking offers an infrastructure by which some sectors of global health can be democratized. Here we present an in-depth discussion of the advantages of open source medical technology for the public and private sectors, then provide a concrete example of the progress of our efforts to develop an open source magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Based on our calculations such an instrument could potentially result in cost savings of up to $3.3 billion within about 20 years for the German healthcare system alone. On a global scale the implications of an affordable open source MRI would be even more striking. We suggest a series of milestones to be met to a widespread development of open source medical technology with the aim of improving global health in a way that is less restricted by current political and economic borders.