The challenge of scaling up HIV treatment in Africa has led to a new emphasis on improving health systems in impoverished areas. One aspect of this is the development and deployment of electronic medical record systems to support HIV and TB treatment. In this paper we describe the design and implementation of a new medical record architecture to support an HIV treatment program in rural Rwanda. The architecture is called OpenMRS and it has been developed to address the problem of configuring EMR systems to suit new sites, languages and diseases. OpenMRS uses a data dictionary called the concept dictionary to represent all the possible data items that can be collected. This allows new items to be added to the system by non-programmers. In addition, there are form creation tools that use drag and drop web technologies to simplify form construction.
The OpenMRS system was first implemented in Kenya in February 2006 and then in Rwanda in August 2006. The system is now functioning well and we are developing extensions to improve the support for the clinic. hese include improved, easy to use reporting tools, support for additional clinical problems including nutrition and child health, better database synchronization tools, and modules to collect laboratory data and support the pharmacy. The system is also in use in South Africa and Lesotho and is being deployed in Tanzania and Uganda.
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