Since September 24th - 27th 2012 a host of international health information professionals participated in Kigali’s first ever Open Health Information Exchange (OpenHIE) symposium.
The symposium brought key open source health software communities together to collaboratively create and deploy an integrated eHealth system for the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
The summit was sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and hosted by the Rwandan Ministry of Health and Jembi Health Systems, the symposium brought together officers from each of five major free and open source health systems to contribute to the refinement and extension of the OpenHIE system initially being deployed in the Rwamagana district, Eastern Province, Rwanda.
The Rwandan OpenHIE, created by the Rwandan Ministry of Health and partners under the auspices of the PEPFAR funded Rwanda Health Enterprise Architecture (RHEA) Project, is being instantiated to initially support a shared electronic medical record for expectant mothers visiting antenatal clinics in the Rwamagana district and later to support all the other areas of primary and secondary care.
The project is intended to improve maternal care in the district by increasing health workers’ access to high quality medical records.
The symposium continues the cutting-edge work begun in Rwanda’s Rwamagana district by the Ministry’s eHealth unit, under the direction of Dr. Richard Gakuba, Director of eHealth for Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, to include medical facilities in all regions of the country as well as extend to support additional clinical and public health areas.
This implementation demonstrates how Rwanda’s health care delivery system will be enhanced by OpenHIE using effective open source health tools and collaboration.
The use of OpenHIE is anticipated to improve clinical outcomes, optimize the effectiveness of health care delivery, and provide patients with better, more cost effective health services.
“An integrated eHealth system is a new and innovative way of thinking. Using open source approaches to develop a national healthcare information infrastructure has proven successful for organizations like OpenMRS which has been adopted as the national electronic health record system solution in Rwanda”, said Dr. Paul Biondich, Research Scientist and Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Informatics at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Dr. Biondich is one of the principal architects providing leadership for this initiative.
This initiative will greatly strengthen Rwanda’s health system supported by a robust health information system infrastructure.
By being developed collaboratively and made freely available, OpenHIE will enable Africa to mitigate the traditional challenges associated with re-engineering proprietary and stand-alone systems to create an effective shared electronic health record.
Implementing OpenHIE is an achievement on par with the introduction of mobile telephony, an innovation which has permitted many Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) to communicate without stringing together millions of miles of copper cable.