IntraHealth OPEN: Building Capacity for Open Source Development
DataDyne’s EpiSurveyor is one of the most usable and adaptable mHealth applications. Whether you are tracking health supplies, ART compliance, or disease incidence, EpiSurveyor can be quickly customized and applied to most health data collection efforts. DataDyne's commitment to Open Source technologies and Open Standards are commendable and essential to the sustainability and adaptability for developing world solutions. Open Source applications like EpiSurveyor are especially appropriate for integrating with other Open Source projects, but a piece that is often missing is the essential capacity of local developers to work with these technologies, and health workers to use them effectively.
IntraHealth’s OPEN project is designed to link projects like EpiSurveyor with other Open Source projects and developers to meet stakeholder needs for better information for better health. OPEN will build and support the critical capacity necessary for health professionals and developers to adapt and apply Open Source solutions and ensure timely, high-quality information is used effectively for improved decision-making at all levels of the health system.
For example, OPEN might work with eHealth leaders and stakeholders to identify a need for better Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) compliance. Capacity would be built with eHealth professionals in country to adapt EpiSurveyor to capture the original information on a mobile phone, wirelessly update an OpenMRS medical record system, and then send monthly reports via the open source District Health Information System (DHIS) to report the data up to the central Ministry of Health.
OPEN helps stakeholders:
- identify the need
- architect the system
- adapt new software and existing systems to be integrated
- strengthen necessary infrastructure
- develop strong data quality practices
- train health workers to use the system
- improve data analysis and data-driven decision-making towards improved ART policies and services
- implement the new policies and services into the system
The result is a cycle of sustainability and continuous improvement in information, decision-making, and health.
All of the above processes currently happen, but in a piecemeal and uncoordinated fashion, with little adherence to national eHealth standards and quality control (if any exists). These vertical efforts are rarely linked, resulting in siloed and less-effective solutions. OPEN’s role is to support stakeholders to bring it all together effectively and sustainably.