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The OpenMRS Field Guide is a new and (very) incomplete resource that aims to help implementers with the nuts and bolts of beginning and sustaining a successful implementation of OpenMRS, from securing electricity to maintaining data quality.

This page aims to complement existing resources such as the

Implementation Overvie


PIH model online)

, highlighting details from actual experiences on the ground. Many of the topics in the Field Guide are not about OpenMRS per se, but about the myriad components of infrastructure and staff practices that must be in place for OpenMRS to function. If you find similar or complementary resources, please list them at the bottom of this page.

If you don't find what you're looking for in this general guide, please ask the implementers list. The list is full of people just like you who would like to answer your questions promptly.

Assessing Needs

Get the stories and work flows of:

  • Patients
  • Providers (doctors, nurses, clinical officers)
  • Data Clerks/Record Keepers
  • Lab and Pharmacy staff

Find out how all medical information is supposed to be managed, as well as how it is actually managed. Note that practices may vary seasonally, for example if the hospital is much busier due to increased malaria during rainy season or malnutrition before harvest.

People generally want to be positive in describing their work places, so you may need to ask multiple people multiple times. Get copies or pictures of all paper forms if possible. Figure out where (i.e. specific rooms and desks) data is recorded onto paper and by who. Write an overview of current practices and define specific shortcomings that could be addressed by using an electronic medical records system.

Project Design

The OpenMRS platform is flexible enough to support a wide variety of use cases or implementation models. To adopt and adapt the model that best fits your project, you will need to broadly consider assessed needs and available resources including access to basic infrastructure, hardware, community partners, and expertise of staff, volunteers, and available contractors. You may find it helpful to perform a

SWOT analysis

of your project. Major issues to consider include:

Collaborating with government and NGOs

  • What are the reporting and regulatory requirements for the Ministry of Health? If you are working at a ministry of health clinic/hospital, it is important to begin talking with the ministry of health as early as possible to consider how your model could be replicated to other sites.
  • Are there other NGOs in the area that already use OpenMRS or would like to? Consider possibilities for sharing a system of unique national IDs, and/or sharing a concept dictionary so that medical information can be more easily transferred from one site to the next.
  • You should reach out to other NGOs by asking the implementers mailing list if there are any other implementers in your region. Whether or not you end up collaborating with them, it can be very helpful to communicate with a local experienced implementer during the design phase of your project.

If you have multiple sites, how will they be connected?

  • A central server with remote sites connected via internet.
  • local server connected to work stations with a wireless local area network
  • local server connected to work stations by ethernet cable
  • A collection of sites, each with its own server, are connected by remote form entry module or sync feature.
  • Paper forms are completed at remote sites and carried to a central location where they are entered into a local server.
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