OpenMRS as a global good: Impact, opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned from fifteen years of implementation

Neha Verma, Burke Mamlin, Jan Flowers, Soumyadipta Acharya, Alain Labrique, Theresa Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: OpenMRS is an open source medical record system that was first released in 2004. This research study analyzed OpenMRS implementations by conducting a survey of implementers and by reviewing publicly available data reported to the OpenMRS Community to learn about the utilization and impact of OpenMRS over the past 15 years. Methods: Data about the use of OpenMRS were collected by conducting a survey of OpenMRS implementers that included both quantitative and qualitative questions. Data were also gathered from the OpenMRS community-hosted Atlas website and the OpenMRS Community Annual report to arrive at a comprehensive view of OpenMRS implementations. Results: OpenMRS has been implemented in over 62 countries worldwide (Community Annual report). The survey was responded to by 16 organizations with projects spanning 16 countries, which were launched over 15 years (2004–2019). Fourteen of these sites reported a total of 1,436,357 patients; 4,248,248 visits; 18,028,204 encounters; 312,068,205 observations; and 5088 users, of which 3933 were health providers, recorded in the system database. Implementers reported a positive impact from implementing OpenMRS in streamlining operational processes for healthcare delivery; improved interoperability; improved reporting; improved availability and quality of data for decision making, advocacy, and research; and, improvement in the quality of healthcare delivery. Key challenges in implementing OpenMRS included finding skilled technical staff; acceptability of electronic health records by clinical staff; poor training provided to staff when transitioning from a paper-based to an electronic system; technical challenges, including infrastructure availability (computers, servers, equipment, connectivity, power); missing clinical/programmatic functionality in OpenMRS; poor documentation; and, difficulties faced when contributing code to the open source project. Conclusion: OpenMRS has a broad reach globally in a variety of settings. Organizations have reported a positive impact on health care delivery after implementing OpenMRS. Several risks and challenges were identified by implementers that need to be addressed to deliver successful implementations. Continued investment in the development of OpenMRS is needed to sustain and scale its impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104405
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Digital health
  • Global health
  • Medical records
  • Open source
  • OpenMRS
  • Software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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