Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NextLab team works with OpenMRS to scale medical imaging workflow solution

I learned in my stint as an enterprise IT strategy consultant that IT is like the holy grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Just as good technologies gives life, bad technology takes it away. Never has that statement been so literal as it is in developing world health care.

As I mentioned in previous post, our project with CIDRZ to improve cervical cancer diagnosis in Zambia has evolved towards the workflow management back end to allow physicians to remotely review, diagnose and provide feedback on images. An exciting development is that we’ll be working to make this fit in with the OpenMRS system. OpenMRS is an open-source medical records system that is gaining traction in the developing world. If the goal is scalability, and having an impact beyond Zambia into the entire realm of developing world medical imaging, compatibility with OpenMRS is an extremely important step. This will allow for what we develop to be leveraged and re-used and evolved.

At the Open Innovation Workshop that I attended in May, many of the younger PhD and me were wondering about models where collaboration and innovation enable by new ICTs could save this world. OpenMRS is an example, albeit one fraught with potential pitfalls. Medical records are an issue and a major cost for health care providers everywhere in the world. By providing a scalable, open source system and getting talented developers to work on add-in modules, OpenMRS offers a solution for providers looking to keep information technology costs low. This enables the providers to spend the money on what really matters – treating patients.
I’m curious to learn more about OpenMRS – it looks scalable and robust from its data design. It’s been deployed in a number of developing world locations. If it works, it will allow providers to divert money towards where it really matters.

There’s another team working on a front-end Android interface for medical records imaging led by Zach Anderson, a MIT Course 6 programmer that we are collaborating with a well. It sounds like they too will be compatible with OpenMRS. More on that collaboration in another post as I learn more about what specifically they are doing.

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