Notice E0 Phase 1 Shelf Readiness

Notice E for promoting investments in digital health global goods

OpenBoxes Shelf Readiness Project

Two-sentence overview: 

OpenBoxes is an open source logistics management information system designed to meet the supply-chain management demands of public health systems. The system is used to manage supplies and medications for healthcare facilities and disaster relief efforts. A major gap identified in the shelf-readiness of OpenBoxes is user-friendly deployment and configuration of the software. Partners In Health (PIH) proposes to leverage its decade of experience with OpenBoxes implementation, development, and project management to lead the OpenBoxes Shelf Readiness Project. Our goal is to create a user-friendly installation and setup package that is available online and makes implementation independently manageable by a non-technical audience so that the software is more easily deployable by users who need it. 

Executive summary: 

Since its initial design in 2010, OpenBoxes has been implemented by 5 global health organizations across 8 countries. While the OpenBoxes team receives regular inquiries from organizations interested in using the software, the complex procedures required to deploy and configure that application create a barrier to adoption for many potential users. In order to achieve our goal to provide free, high-quality LMIS software to anyone who needs it, the next step toward making OpenBoxes shelf-ready must be a user-friendly installation and configuration package.

The OpenBoxes Shelf Readiness Project team, led by Partners In Health (PIH) in collaboration with OpenBoxes and SolDevelo, will create a simple, easy to use installation and setup package that will be available online to all users. Investments from Digital Square will be used to fund the project management, business analysis, development, testing, and implementation activities of the OpenBoxes Shelf Readiness Project, including identifying gaps in the current onboarding process, researching new technologies, and defining and implementing solutions. PIH has extensive experience implementing and using OpenBoxes across multiple countries and settings and is uniquely suited to lead a project focused on increasing the ease of deployment and implementation of the software.

Thus, PIH will identify users within its network and other implementing organizations to analyze and document pain points as these users work through the current configuration process.

Concurrently, the OpenBoxes lead developer and developers from SolDevelo will research technologies to enable a push-button installation process. From those pain points and suggestions, the project team will design a configuration package, develop the package using an agile framework with regular QA and UAT, and test the solution with users at PIH’s care delivery sites.

The final installation and configuration package will be designed to achieve three goals:

  1. Ease of installation: Push button installation for non-technical users, easier deployment of new instances for developers, and an installation package for Instant OpenHIE
  2. Ease of configuration: Wizards to help users manage the most important aspects of the initial set up process
  3. Availability of documentation: Configuration documentation for both technical and non-technical users, including in app tutorials for complex functions

Throughout this process, the implementation team will engage with the OpenHIE community to ensure that any solution deployed is compatible with OpenHIE architecture.

Consortium Team: 

Partners In Health (Prime)

Partners In Health (PIH), the prime organization for this project, is an international health organization relentlessly committed to improving the health of the poor through public sector partnerships in 11 countries. PIH’s unique position of working at community, health center, hospital, and national levels for 33 years has enabled us to see the practical needs of health management at each of these levels, and to develop and implement strategies that respond to all of these needs.

In 2010, informed by involvement with OpenMRS, PIH began funding the creation and support of OpenBoxes. PIH has since implemented the system at its care-delivery sites in Haiti, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia and has provided technical assistance for other implementing organizations in Madagascar and the Dominican Republic, with an implementation in progress in Dominica. PIH proposes to leverage this experience and lessons learned from implementations in various settings to lead the OpenBoxes Shelf Readiness Project and manage its financial, administrative, and business analysis components.

Key Staff

Kelsey Nagel, OpenBoxes Project Manager: Ms. Nagel led her first implementation of OpenBoxes of Malawi in 2014. Under the leadership of Ms Greenspan, she collaborated on the development of a new version of OpenBoxes in 2018, and led the rollout of this new version in Liberia, Rwanda, and Malawi. For the last year, Ms. Nagel has functioned as the product manager for all PIH-funded development of OpenBoxes. She will lead this project for PIH.

Jesse Greenspan, Director of Supply Chain: Ms. Greenspan was a project manager on the initial development of OpenBoxes, and led its first implementation in Haiti. She has been a leader of the PIH OpenBoxes support team for 8 years, during which time she has implemented the software in Sierra Leone and Madagascar. In her current role, Ms. Greenspan oversees PIH strategy for OpenBoxes. Ms. Greenspan will provide oversight and support to Ms. Nagel as she manages the project.

OpenBoxes (Supporting)

Partners In Health will partner with OpenBoxes to improve the installation and onboarding processes for new software implementations. Justin Miranda, the creator and lead developer of OpenBoxes, will oversee development and tool selection, ensuring that all improvements integrate seamlessly with existing functionality. Justin will function as lead developer and scrum master for the project, supervising other developers from SolDevelo.

Key Staff

Justin Miranda, Lead Developer: Mr. Miranda has over 20 years of experience developing enterprise software, including 15 years as a lead developer for two open-source projects (OpenMRS and OpenBoxes).

 

SolDevelo (Supporting)

SolDevelo is an IT outsourcing and consulting firm that has worked on several open source HMIS solutions. SolDevelo worked with PIH and Justin Miranda to develop a new version of OpenBoxes that was finished in 2018, and has been a key contributor to OpenBoxes ever since. SolDevelo will provide both developer support and quality assurance testing for the project.

Digital Health Atlas: 

The following projects have been registered in the Digital Health Atlas:
Malawi: https://digitalhealthatlas.org/en/-/projects/1004/published
Haiti: https://digitalhealthatlas.org/en/-/projects/1001/published

Geographic Reach: 

Haiti, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Uganda, and USA.

WHO Classification: 
Logistics management information system
Application Status: 
In Scope
Application Tags: 
packaging and deployment
supply chain
product documentation and manuals

Comments

Hi Jesse

I like the concept, we would suggest linking to the existing Instant OpenHIE project under OpenHIE for installation and deployment approaches to position it for future opportunities as inclusion in the broader HIE landscape. It would also be valuable to understand how and where you see the work fitting into OpenHIE and the standards/workflows it will be supporting etc.

We are planning to follow the Instant OpenHIE guidelines as closely as possible. As a first step we are hoping to get something working for non-technical users that will eventually be able to plug into the Instant OpenHIE framework. I see Instant OpenHIE as sort of a standard Makefile/Jenkinsfile for deploying services based on different scenarios (i.e. deploy demo for evaluation, deploy feature branch for testing). And what we’re trying to do in this project is implement the specific workflows that the Instant OpenHIE Makefile will invoke (i.e. deploy to EC2, insert demo data, etc) using technologies like Docker. 

One of the things that would be really useful to get from the OpenHIE community is a reference implementation that we can actually play around with. It sounds like Daniel might be proposing something like that through the Advancing Instance OpenHIE application (https://applications.digitalsquare.io/content/advancing-instant-openhie). We’d be interested to collaborate with him on that.

As to the question of how OpenBoxes fits into OpenHIE, I think we’re still trying to figure that out. The conversations between all of the systems is not entirely clear to me yet, but my vision is one in which we integrate systems like OpenBoxes (inventory) with OpenMRS (dispensing), OpenLMIS (last mile replenishment), and DHIS2 (reporting). OpenBoxes would handle inventory management at the warehouse level (from receipt of a sea container to fulfilling requisitions made by a pharmacy), OpenLMIS generates those replenishment requests at the program level (which could potentially be automated), and OpenMRS manages dispensing transactions at the patient level. All of these systems report to DHIS2 which would allow us to reconcile transactions across levels of the health care supply chain and answer questions (like "was there a discrepancy between quantities sent from the warehouse to the pharmacy and quantities dispensed to patients?") in order to to allow us to monitor and eliminate sources of waste and make more accurate forecasts for purchasing.