Just recently I heard of an amazing open source project which saves lives. OpenMRS.
OpenMRS is a medical record system, which has been created in 2004 as a platform for developing countries. It allows medical workers to electronically store and track patient’s medical case information. Especially in developing countries a doctor has to take care of many people. Thereby people suffer from severe illness. Due to the high number of patients and the lifethreatening illness the time the doctor can spend with one patient is limited. Without this medical record system the doctor has to search for the informations of each patient. Imagine yourself searching for the informations you need and knowing each second that you waste may cost someone’s live. Replacing paper based records is just essential!
figure 1- Searching for the patient’s information using the paper based strategy (source: CODING A BETTER
WORLD- Munich Meetup at ThoughtWorks 03/2016)
OpenMRS improves health care delivery by replacing paper based records. The system manages serval informations about the patient. It is easy to use and enables data analysis. There are many people who wonder about data protection restrictions. Using OpenMRS in the west will be impossible due to those restriction. But in developing countries, where this data will decide between live and death of a person, this question will not arise.
figure 2- The international OpenMRS community
OpenMRS consists of three layers:
- Data Model
- API (wrapper around the data model)
- Web Application (web-front end and customizable modules which extends core functionalities)
What can you do?
The system is open sources and therefore developed and maintained by a large international community. You also can be part of this community. You need to be passionate about creating a better world. There are serval ways to contribute to OpenMRS:
- Develop- from with quick, simple projects to extended tasks
- Test- consider helping to test OpenMRS Releases (for non developers)
- Document- maintain documentation and resources of OpenMrs
- Translate- as OpenMRS is used around the world
Everyone who wants to contribute has to get an OpenMRS ID in order to be connected with the community to manage issues in JIRA to contribute to the Wiki and more. Everyone who wants to get started as a developer should follow the step by step guide in order to be able to create code.
Try joining hackathon. Learn more about OpenMrs and don’t forget pair programming. It really is fun. ThoughtWorks organizes such hackathons and one of the best comments I heard from a developer was: “As a technologist I want to use my skills and expertise to improve human welfare”. Beautiful isn’t it?