Health & Medicine

Making medical records accessible

Ask this expert about medical record keeping in places like Kenya, Peru, and Haiti and he says the reality is there is no good record keeping. He is a cardiologist who works for a group called Partners in Health. He says in countries beset with problems such as AIDS, good patient records are vital, because something like AIDS is a chronic disease. But in the developing world, options for computerized record keeping systems are limited and off the shelf software is too expensive and not customizable. Partners in Health found a comprehensive solution called Open Medical Resource System developed by a research institute based out of Indiana University's School of Medicine. Open MRS was created with the developing world in mind and the software is free, anyone can download it from the internet. It's open source software, so anyone who downloads it can modify it as long as they share their modifications. One of the creators of Open MRS says they chose to make the software open source so those using it could tailor the software as they need to. And the collaboration continues in the U.S. as well. Recently a group of programmers gathered in Boston for an Open MRS hack-a-thon, 3 days of coding and fixing bugs. Open MRS is now in use in more than a dozen countries, and one of the early adopters was this hospital in Haiti. This IT worker at the hospital said record keeping in Haiti is spotty at best, but that Open MRS is helping. And efforts to improve Open MRS continue across the globe.

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