In his keynote yesterday, Paul Biondich mentioned a few numbers – OpenMRS has been in development since 2008, and is deployed in over 70 countries – but mostly, the number he focused on was one – individuals whose lives have been touched by the project. Doctors, patients, and Open Source developers.
I’ve been following OpenMRS for several years, since discovering the project while I was working at SourceForge, and learning that it was started by a visit to Kenya, to a hospital where paper-only medical records were hampering patient care. The trip, which Paul almost declined to go on, changed his life and the course of his career, and he began to devote his time to developing OpenMRS, which is now the standard medical records system in many countries, including Kenya.
Paul observed that medicine is, in large part, an information science. Having access to the right information at the right time can be the difference between the life and death of a patient. Of course, it’s only one tool in the toolbox, but it’s a critical one.
Paul, and all the other people at OpenMRS, have long been an inspiration to me, and represent all that is good and noble about Open Source. His keynote is well worth watching once the videos are posted.