Open Source EMR Alternatives for Kenya

MediGrail implemented the OpenEMR system in a rural government hospital in Kenya in January this year. They went live on 13 April 2012. Since then, the system has handled 30,162 patient encounters. Unfortunately, this successful system implementation event seems to have gone largely unnoticed by the Kenyan government.

The Kenyan government has published a "Report on the Review of EMR Systems Towards Standardization Kenya Ministries of Health, 2011", and another report entitled "Standards and Guidelines for Electronic Medical Record (EMR)Systems in Kenya". Unfortunately, the review of EMR systems may not have adequately addressed the availability of other high quality open source EMR alternatives.

Apparently, the government has heard of OpenMRS, but is not aware of some of the other alternative open source electronic medical record (EMR) solutions that are available such as VistA and Open EMR. The government has identified OpenMRS as one of 4 recommended EMR systems for a pilot project to automate 5 facilities - Maternal Child Health clinics and HIV clinics. The recommendation also applies to the rest of 300 clinics nationwide which will then follow the pilot project.

Yudhvir Singh Sidhu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MediGrail, is trying to get OpenEMR included in the list of recommended EMR solutions considered for the pilot projects.

In recent discussions by government ministry officials, the highly recommended solutions for the pilot projects focused included only one open source system – OpenMRS. The other alternatives were all vendors of more costly, proprietary solutions.

At this time, OpenMRS is not particularly suited for use in larger facilities. However, since most of the medical facilities in the country are small clinics, it is well suited for that market.

Unfortunately, the pilot EMR projects also relate to the race by vendors to get their products implemented into the big hospitals across the country. Leaving out OpenEMR and the VistA open source solutions that are better suited to these larger facilities may be a major mis-step by the government.

The Siaya District Hospital (SDH) team has brought OpenEMR to the attention of the Kenyan government. They hope that their success in implementing an open source EMR system in a fairly big facility will result in the list of government recommended systems being modified. The OpenEMR system installed at SDH is stable, extensible, satisfies the evaluation criteria, is an
enterprise class solutions.

According to Yudhvir Singh Sidhu, CEO of MediGrail, the ministries are now paying attention. They have received a message from the district medical officer saying people from the ministry are willing to come and review OpenEMR as an alternative that should also be approved. He hopes the OpenEMR and global 'Open Health' community will help rally support for the expanded use of their system in Kenya.