Open Source

Open Source Health Workforce Information Systems

This post was originally published on the Global Health Workforce Alliance Members’ Platform. CapacityPlus is the featured member in March. We encourage you to join and contribute to the discussion.

The World Health Organization recognizes a key component to achieving universal health coverage is “a sufficient capacity of well-trained, motivated health workers.” For many countries, successfully managing the distribution of their health workforce is reliant upon a human resources information system (HRIS). The better systems are developed with a user-centered approach and focus on data use. Good HRIS turn data into information that can inform the decision-making process. Read more »

Mobile Apps to Support Community Health Workers: Adapting Trusted Content to New Mediums

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog. Lily Walkover and Robin Young describe how Hesperian Health Guides is adapting its trusted sources of health information into open source mobile applications for community health workers.

Lily WalkoverIn developing countries around the world, as many as 50% of people are now using cell phones. Access to cell phones is certainly greater than access to reliable health care and health information! Yet in the emerging field of mHealth—the use of mobile phones to support health—the focus has veered significantly toward data collection. At Hesperian Health Guides (publisher of Where There Is No Doctor), we’ve been part of a conversation to expand that focus and include using mobile phones to deliver health information to community health workers and the people they support.

Health educators all over the world have told us how they have adapted our print resources to their needs. At times this has meant literally cutting up images and text with scissors in order to prepare presentations, handouts, and other materials to provide accessible health information to their communities. This hunger for resources combined with enormous user creativity has motivated us to design mobile apps that not only make health information more accessible, but also facilitate adaptation, feedback, translation, and conversion into new formats for lower-end mobile technologies. Read more »

A West African Perspective on Open Source

Growing up in Nigeria, Kayode Odusote liked figuring out how things work. As a young boy, he would often purchase Radio Shack do-it-yourself kits and assemble them.

Years later he became a neurologist and professor, and more recently served as director for human resources development at the West African Health Organization (WAHO). WAHO is an umbrella organization of 15 member countries, and one of Professor Odusote’s key aims was to help these countries gather and use health worker data to inform their decisions. But this wasn’t easy. “We found that none of them had the kind of human resources information system that they could use for planning,” he recalls.

Working with limited resources, he wanted to avoid installing systems that relied on proprietary software, which entails various fees for licensing, upgrades, and customization. “With proprietary products,” he explains, “the vendor controls the costs.” He has stories of proprietary applications developed by vendors in Burkina Faso and Togo; the computers they were built for became outdated and the applications could not be updated to match current operating systems of new, donated computers. They became useless.
Read more »

Advocating Open Access: Information Has the Power to Save Lives

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog.

To mark tCorinne Farrellhe beginning of Open Access Week, a global event now in its fifth year, which promotes open access as a new norm in scholarship and research, we started thinking about the concept of “open.” Google defines it as:

Allowing access, passage, or a view through an empty space; not closed or blocked up: ‘the door was wide open.’

IntraHealth has long championed the importance of health workers and managers having open access to information, particularly in developing countries. Open access is a natural extension of that work. As we blogged last spring, readily available and accessible information can help health workers save lives. Read more »

iHRIS: A Year of Development

Carol BalesWe know that most “year in review” articles are published in January, coinciding with the new calendar year, but the year that’s been consuming our thoughts just ended. CapacityPlus’s second fiscal year wrapped up in June and, since we’ve been concentrating on iHRIS development over the last year for our year-end reporting, we thought we’d post a summary of our accomplishments.

Following the “release early, release often” philosophy that encourages user feedback, we published 11 new releases of our iHRIS Qualify and iHRIS Manage software. We added new capabilities focused on improving the usability of the software, expanding translation support, enhancing our reporting module for data analysis and use, and, of course, fixing bugs. Read more »

Only Human: The Challenge of Intentional Knowledge Management

Corinne FarrellThe last week was a bit of a whirlwind, as I spent Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC at the KM Impact Challenge unConference. There, I shared CapacityPlus’s experiences measuring the success of the HRH Global Resource Center.

I left the conference holding a stack of new contacts’ business cards and brainstorming uses for network analyses. I said to myself, on Monday I’ll tell my colleagues all about the unConference. Then my return flight was delayed. I got home late, rose early, spent hours at the emergency room with my three-year-old getting stitches, cleaned my house, came to work on Monday, filled out an expense report, wrote a trip report, sorted through 400 unread e-mails, and my “to do” list exploded. Read more »

Open Access: The Only Viable Option for Change

Rebecca RhodesWhy do we publish health research? If the editors of PLoS Medicine are correct that “medical journals have many roles, but, above all, dissemination of medical information is key,” then journals need to be accessible to the most important data consumers—frontline health workers.

While research for its own sake is necessary to advance scientific understanding, this is not enough. At its core health development research should save the lives of people who—without access to basic health care—die from diseases easily cured or preventable childbirth complications.

If the individuals who could most contribute to and benefit from information on health in the developing world find the resources cost-prohibitive to access, then how much impact can we really expect from research? Read more »

Developer to Developer: Creating a Regional Support Network at the Unconference

Read about the first days of the Unconference.

Carl Leitner at the unconference, GhanaClosing the iHRIS track on Tuesday, CapacityPlus staff Dykki Settle asked how many of the participants were excited to come back tomorrow. In reply, the 25 participants—from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo, and more—including human resources (HR) managers, information technology staff, and HR directors—universally and sincerely expressed their enthusiasm for the Training Workshop/Unconference for Interoperable Applications for Health Information Systems. As this is a western African regional conference, both French and English speakers were present. Many thanks to Romain Tohouri who provided excellent translation to and from French on technical areas such as HR and software development, as well as health sector terminology. Read more »

The Digital Nomad: Blogging from the Health Information Systems Unconference

Carl Leitner's badgePacked and ready to collaborate
In my suitcase there are two iHRIS Appliances, a host of books donated by O'Reilly, and several large printouts of the form maps for iHRIS Manage and iHRIS Qualify. I’m a digital nomad, I say to myself, looking at my backpack full of electronic knick-knacks that will help smooth over any technical hiccups we may encounter during the Training Workshop/Unconference for Interoperable Applications for Health Information Systems. Held in Accra, Ghana, most participants are from the Economic Community of West African States, with several iHRIS developers from Botswana and Lesotho as well. Read more »

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