Notice E0 Phase 1 Shelf Readiness

Notice E for promoting investments in digital health global goods

Shelf-Ready Content Management Using OCL for OpenMRS

Two-sentence overview: 

OpenMRS believes shelf-ready, interoperable software means providing users with an easily configurable tool for managing terminologies and metadata that is also required by OpenMRS’ role in Instant OpenHIE, either as a Shared Health Record or as a Point-of-Service system. By bringing together implementers, community members, and representatives from Open Concept Lab (OCL) and other global goods, this investment will be used to develop an OCL for OpenMRS MVP that addresses priority use cases, including those that simplify the workflows for creating collections that use standard concepts and exporting these collections to OpenMRS instances that are part of a small or large scale deployment.

Executive summary: 

OpenMRS is a high quality, open source, integrated electronic medical records platform (EMR) aimed at resource-constrained settings where structured patient record keeping systems (specifically, EMR systems) can improve health outcomes.  OpenMRS is a scalable, modular, open source platform used by institutions and nations across the globe to build customized medical record systems that can meet the needs of varied situations. Over the past decade, the OpenMRS community has become a robust organization of developers, implementers and users actively building and supporting life saving health systems worldwide. As OpenMRS continues its growth in over 5,500 health facilities in 60+ countries to date, it increasingly is recognized as a de-facto EMR standard, supported by the OpenMRS community.

One of OpenMRS’ strengths is its concept-based data model that allows clinical content to be configured for each implementation. Despite the advantages of a concept-based model, to date this approach has led to a lot of chaos, as every installation is free to create their own concepts in isolation. Although OpenHIE with a terminology server and a shared health record can hypothetically address this heterogeneity in concept dictionaries, in practice, having a shared common data dictionary greatly eases interoperability.

Over the years we have created a starter set for the OpenMRS Reference Application as well as several methods for sharing concepts. The CIEL Dictionary is a curated and widely used dictionary. At the same time, implementations want their own dictionaries with a combination of content from CIEL and their own custom concepts. None of these have made it easy to follow best practices, or led to large-scale adoption of concept sharing.

Therefore, a cloud-based tool which would allow for the rapid creation of standardized concept dictionaries from disparate implementations and then automatically maintain and synchronize that dictionary with point of service systems would be a significant accelerator to interoperable health information systems.

Consortium Team: 

In addition to being an open source EMR, OpenMRS is an open source community that functions as a consortium, with many organizations working in LMICs supporting the work of individual OpenMRS contributors. As such, the community seeks to engage and motivate both volunteers and supporting organizations to actively contribute to all aspects of the software development and implementation process. 

The OpenMRS Community currently supports an OCL for OpenMRS squad, which consists of volunteer contributors, contributors from OpenMRS implementers such as Partners In Health, MSF, and AMPATH, and representatives from other global goods such as CIEL, OCL and Bahmni. 

The OpenMRS Community provides the following to the OCL for OpenMRS squad:

  • access to community best practices; community members with project management, subject matter expertise, business analysis, documentation, development and quality assurance skills and experience; publicity and outreach; and mentorship to build capacity of OpenMRS implementations

  • community support from OpenMRS leadership, including a dedicated community director and technical project manager. Examples of such support include community events such as design forums, OpenMRS university sessions, the annual Implementer’s meeting, hackathons, the OpenMRS blog, and routine community meetings designed to support those working on specific OpenMRS projects/modules.

  • operational and infrastructure support. This takes the form of communication channels (Talk, Wiki, IRC channel/Telegram, audio/video conferencing technology), software development tools (JIRA, github, server hosting, continuous integration), and other operational support

Geographic Reach: 

OpenMRS is utilized globally as the de facto EMR for resource-constrained environments, implemented in more than 5,500 facilities in over 64 countries and serving over 12.5 million patients.

WHO Classification: 
Electronic medical record
Application Status: 
Approved - partially funded
Application Tags: 
community engagement
terminology service


Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for submitting a concept note for Notice E0. Please upload the concept note template attachment, which should include your project description, including background or problem statement, objectives, deliverables & schedule and risk mitigation. Final concept notes are due May 22 at 5pm EDT.



Hi Jennifer

Could you please indicate how this builds on previous work items and what is missing from the MVP - it would be great to get a bit more clarity as to what the investment would go into building/creating.

Thanks Carl