OpenMRS on the BBC

The BBC website is running an article on OpenMRS, the open source medical records package:

A free and simple piece of software is helping manage the spread of disease in developing countries.

The Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS) is providing countries, such as South Africa, with an online patient medical record system.

It does not require any programming knowledge and is helping to improve how people are cared for and treated.

It could transform the prevention and treatment of diseases such as HIV and Aids, its developers say.

Many projects designed to tackle the disease manage their information with simple spreadsheets, poorly designed databases and sometimes nothing at all.

But with 40 million people infected or dying from the disease globally, the majority in developing countries, an effective medical record system has been badly needed.

It’s about storing and representing information, then building things like decision support
Paul Biondich

“Our mission is to build a health records system in support of direct patient care, on the ground for the very poorest of the poor,” Dr Paul Biondich, a paediatrician at the Regenstrief Institute in the US and one of the co-founders of OpenMRS told the BBC World Service’s Digital Planet.OpenMRS was formed in 2004 and is a free application that has already been rolled out in many African countries, including, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda.

The system has been designed so that information can be stored in a way that makes it easy to summarise and analyse patient information.

“In taking care of patients there is a process of both being able to gather and interpret information to make informed decisions about what should be done with an individual.

“That need to manage information is what electronic medical record systems is all about”, he said.

Sorting information

At its core, OpenMRS has a so-called “concept dictionary” that stores all diagnoses, tests, procedures, drugs and other general information.

“In some cases – especially in the context of HIV in Africa – we are seeing that an increasing amount of care is being provided by practitioners that have had less direct experience”, said Dr Biondich.

The intention is to create a system that allows clinicians to gather information about their HIV patients
Paul Biondich

Using a system like OpenMRS, can help to present the information in ways that help make better-informed medical decisions.”The intention is to create a system that allows clinicians to gather information about their HIV patients.

“For example, their physical exam findings and their laboratory test results, like the CD4 count (a measure of the strength of the immune system) and the types of medications that they have been placed on.

“By capturing that information the idea is that on subsequent visits that information can be used to further drive the process of care.

The system also has a feature called “decision support”, which provides tips to clinicians about prescriptions and tests which may be necessary.

Developing systems

A conference in Durban, South Africa, has just taken place for users of the system and developers from the open source community.

“What we are trying to do is get some ground swell of interest around this technology,” said Dr Biondich. “What we are finding is that there are a lot of geeks within Africa that have taught us a lot about good system design.

“We are working together with them to build these systems, such that they become their own over time.

“We can come and bring ideas and share but the whole point of this is to create a learning community, where ultimately communities become responsible for the development and further growth of these systems”, he said.

Link

Tories would support Open Source Software for the NHS

David Cameron recently gave a speech where he expressed his preference for Open Standards and Open Source Software such as Linux for use in the NHS and other government projects:

We will follow private sector best practice which is to introduce ‘open standards’ that enables IT contracts to be split up into modular components. So never again could there be projects like Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer. And we will create a level playing field for open source software in IT procurement and open up the procurement system to small and innovative companies…

…look at the private sector’s take-up of open source software, developed collectively by a community of individuals, universities and small and large firms from around the world.

They build the product, suggest improvements, check the source code and critique each others’ work.

Linux, the open source pioneer, is now the fastest growing operating system in the world, and even IBM is basing their new hardware on it.

Information liberation could be hugely beneficial in the new economy.

After all, what are the great new giants of the internet – from Myspace to eBay – but information processing systems?

Link

WorldVistA EHRTM VOE/ 1.0 Available

January 31, 2008 – WorldVistA announces the release and availability of WorldVistA EHR VOE/ 1.0, the only open source EHR that meets Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) ambulatory electronic health record (EHR) criteria for 2006. WorldVistA EHR VOE/ 1.0 is based on and compatible with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) world renowned EHR, VistA®.

The foundation for WorldVistA EHR was developed as part of the VistA-Office EHR (VOE) project, a collaborative effort funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The overall goal of the project was to encourage the broader adoption and effective use of EHRs among physicians by making an affordable, robust, proven EHR solution alternative available.

After completion of the VOE project, WorldVistA made additional enhancements and successfully submitted WorldVistA EHR for certification by CCHIT. As a CCHIT Certified product, WorldVistA EHR VOE/ 1.0 has been tested and passed inspection of 100 percent of a set of criteria for functionality (ability to create and manage electronic records for all patients, as well as automating workflow in a physician’s office), interoperability (a first step in the ability to receive and send electronic data to other entities such as laboratories), and security (ability to keep patients’ information safe).

WorldVistA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is furthering the cause of affordable healthcare information technology worldwide by advocating, championing, and employing the open source paradigm to expand the use and collaborative improvement of the VistA electronic health record. WorldVistA seeks to facilitate and enable global adoption of VistA solutions thorough technology transfer, education and training services. WorldVistA manages and supports the open, collaborative, peer reviewed development and enhancement of VistA and WorldVistA EHR. WorldVistA EHR is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

# # #

For more information about WorldVistA EHR, or to schedule an interview:

Primary Contact: Joseph Dal Molin, VP Business Development
Tel.: (416) 232-1206
Email: dalmolin@worldvista.org
Contact: Maury Pepper, Chair
Tel.: (314) 540-7815
Email: mpepper@worldvista.org

*ADDITIONAL INFORMATION*

Details on WorldVistA EHR and download URL:
http://worldvista.org/World_VistA_EHR

WorldVistA EHR VOE/ 1.0 and CCHIT certification:
http://cchit.org/choose/ambulatory/2006/WorldVistA-EHR.asp

GNU General Public License:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt