A team from METS travelled to Malawi to attend and participate in the international implementers’ conference that took place on 12th December 2017 in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Conference Centre. The three-day conference that was hosted by the Ministry of Health Malawi was themed “eHealth to promote evidence based health service delivery and interoperability”. This theme focused on ways eHealth could be used to improve delivery of health service at the patient level or point of care (support decision and data processes) and how it could support planning for health service delivery.
The conference that was officially opened by Dr. Charles Mwansambo, the Chief of Health Services in Malawi, brought together 120 participants from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, USA, UAE, Haiti, Kenya, India, Nepal, South Africa and Pakistan.
The main objectives of the conference were;
- To demonstrate how Malawi is using a multi-partner and multi-funded approach to develop, implement, and support a national implementation of OpenMRS.
- To expand the OpenMRS community practices to support quality assurance processes (like release testing, stakeholder acceptance testing, module gardening team, etc.)
- To identify the ways to measure a “successful high-quality implementation” of OpenMRS and why it is important to go beyond just software development features and bug fixes.
- To understand ways in which OpenMRS outputs can be used to positively impact the quality of clinical care and the quality of programs that support care.
Among the activities organized at the conference was a hackathon, facility visits to get understanding of Point of Care options used as well as plenary, break-out sessions, Demonstrations, Lightening Talks and ‘Birds of the Same Feathers’ that given presenters an opportunity to talk about their work in summary and allow sharing of knowledge among participants. OpenMRS currently boosts of 1,845 sites across the globe with four systems running on it, these include; UgandaEMR in Uganda, KenyaEMR in Kenya, Bahmni in India and eSaude in Mozambique.
Lessons learn included putting in place an approved Health Sector Strategic Plan/Policy as well as an ehealth policy, adoption of C-Stock; an application that allows VHTs to link with health facilities and check status of drugs before they make the trip to the facility to collect the drugs and adoption of a Point of Care module.
METS made three presentations that triggered interesting discussions, these were Integration of Fingerprint Technology in the use of OpenMRS to help with client identification, Dr. Edgar Kansiime presented on the use of UgandaEMR in the Implementation of Case Based Surveillance, the Kabarole and Hoima Experience and five other members of staff attended the Hackathon session which brought software developers together to contribute, improve and discuss betterment of the OpenMRS. Jonathan Mpango, a Health Informatics Systems Analyst at METS was recognized for his leadership skills and described as one of the Growing group of leaders who will help OpenMRS go places.