Availability of an Open-Source Medical Record System Empowers Health Care Systems of Developing Countries

Rationale / Objectives

Over 40 million people are infected with diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria – up to 95% of these afflictions are present in developing countries. Prevention and treatment interventions on this scale require efficient information management, which is critical as clinical care must increasingly be entrusted to less skilled providers. Most health care programs in developing countries manage their information with simple spreadsheets or small, poorly designed databases. The OpenMRS Consortium wanted to find a way to make health IT tools openly available to healthcare organizations who otherwise would not have access to them. 1

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

OpenMRS, a customizable online medical records system, was developed on research funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The OpenMRS Community collaborated to develop the technology on which OpenMRS was built and continues to evolve. Volunteer efforts played an important role. The creation and use of open standards facilitated information exchange. More than 5.1 million active patients were recorded by Open MRS, and 1149 sites are using it in developing countries. Open MRS succeeded in improving health care in maternal and child health care in Nigeria and improved HIV care in Uganda and Kenya.

Lessons Learned

Engaging with their clients was seen as crucial to the success of OpenMRS, and volunteer communication activity via OpenMRS Talk was the primary means of accomplishing this. OpenMRS played an essential role in the care delivery cycle in developing countries. The software facilitated the gathering and the translation of information to data and knowledge at the point of care. 3

People / Organizations Involved

Further Description

Inspired by the AHRQ-funded studies on electronic order writing and computer reminders, OpenMRS was developed to deliver a free of charge medical record system platform via the Internet for developing countries. The mission of OpenMRS is "to improve healthcare delivery in resource-constrained environments by coordinating a global community that creates a robust, scalable, user-driven, open source medical record system platform"2 3. OpenMRS enabled the design of customized medical records systems without users having prior programming knowledge necessary. As of 2011, more than 50 countries were using OpenMRS. According to OpenMRS' annual report for 2015, more than 5.1 million active patients were recorded by the system and 1149 reported sites are using the system in developing countries. Open MRS covered care for HIV, TB, Malaria, Ebola, Diabetes, Primary Health Care, Maternal and Child Health Care. 3 4

Major Achievements

Metric Result Additional Detail
Number of new OpenMRS Community members 639 In 2015    3
Number of OpenMRS implementations 1149 Reported in 2015   3
Number of active patients >5.1 million Reported in 2015   3
Percentage of new contributors to OpenMRS 63% In 2015    3
Rwanda implementation 250 healthcare facilities supporting >10,000 patients Intended on a national level    1
Expansion in Haiti 12 additional clinics and hospitals A surgical EMR system was also crated following the 2010 earthquake.   1
Quality of care for HIV patients in Uganda Improved (amount unknown) Through reduced patient visit time    1