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Open Access Software

Adaptation of a web-based, open source electronic medical record system platform to support a large study of tuberculosis epidemiology

Hamish SF Fraser12*, David Thomas23, Juan Tomaylla3, Nadia Garcia3, Leonid Lecca3, Megan Murray124 and Mercedes C Becerra124

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

2 Partners In Health, Boston, MA, USA

3 Partners In Health, Lima, Peru

4 Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:125  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-125

Published: 7 November 2012

Abstract

Background

In 2006, we were funded by the US National Institutes of Health to implement a study of tuberculosis epidemiology in Peru. The study required a secure information system to manage data from a target goal of 16,000 subjects who needed to be followed for at least one year. With previous experience in the development and deployment of web-based medical record systems for TB treatment in Peru, we chose to use the OpenMRS open source electronic medical record system platform to develop the study information system. Supported by a core technical and management team and a large and growing worldwide community, OpenMRS is now being used in more than 40 developing countries. We adapted the OpenMRS platform to better support foreign languages. We added a new module to support double data entry, linkage to an existing laboratory information system, automatic upload of GPS data from handheld devices, and better security and auditing of data changes. We added new reports for study managers, and developed data extraction tools for research staff and statisticians. Further adaptation to handle direct entry of laboratory data occurred after the study was launched.

Results

Data collection in the OpenMRS system began in September 2009. By August 2011 a total of 9,256 participants had been enrolled, 102,274 forms and 13,829 laboratory results had been entered, and there were 208 users. The system is now entirely supported by the Peruvian study staff and programmers.

Conclusions

The information system served the study objectives well despite requiring some significant adaptations mid-stream. OpenMRS has more tools and capabilities than it did in 2008, and requires less adaptations for future projects. OpenMRS can be an effective research data system in resource poor environments, especially for organizations using or considering it for clinical care as well as research.

Keywords:
Electronic medical record; Developing country; Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; MDR-TB