Mobile Health Application Development

Introductions to Mobile Applications

Moderator: Yaw Anokwa

Interests of non-developers:

  • What's being developed?
  • Why did people put their dots here?
  • What projects need a mobile tool and what problems are you trying to address?
  • What can I take home and put to use?

Developers: mostly j2me, some iPhone and Symbian devs.

SMS Apps -FrontlineSMS, RapidSMS. messaging module, Frontline is a desktop app, separate software platform. Frontline forms is a j2me app.

Feature phones - Frontline Forms runs on a j2me capable phone and can send information to a desktop running Frontline SMS.
OpenMRS-jr - mobile app built on javarosa that supports patient downloads of information and form filling, plus sending that information into OpenMRS.
Any javarosa can submit an Xform via Xforms module into OpenMRS.
Open Xdata - runs on phones that may be cheaper than those that run javarosa.

Smartphone clients : 

Sana - (formerly Moca Mobile) - primarily for telemedicine

  • Can fill out an encounter form
  • Take pictures, add multimedia, etc
  •  Submit to an ODS server that then feeds the information into OpenMRS ~ 
  • This data can then be reviewed by external parties, who can return information back to the original phone

D-Tree's Andriod OpenMRS - effort to use features of OpenMRS on the android phone - 

  • Implemented the OpenMRS data model onto sqlite
  • Added synchronization between the phone's instance and a server implementation, or to another device.

OpenMRS Andriod Client  -  

  • Will cover most of the functionality of the web application, including
    • Registering patients
    • Taking visit notes
    • Capturing Vitals
  • Supports working off-line (without network connection)
  • Communicates with OpenMRS using REST

ODK Clinic - similar to OpenMRS Jr. Clinic -

  • Can download patient information onto a mobile app and displays information
  • Currently testing a system to download forms, let them be filled out, and to submit them - ( Also supports multimedia and location )

Current Status

  • Android OpenMRS - pilots planned. More Info can be found here: OpenMRS 2.x Android Client
  • Frontline Forms - not integrated into OpenMRS at all
  • Messaging module - it's there and it works
  • ODK Clinic - very early. Not implemented anywhere yet
  • OpenMRS-jr - released and being piloted by Hospital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (1st quarter 2012)
  • Picorosa - IRD may have implemented in Pakistan
  • Sana - some pilots planned.


  • Patient Messaging (see MoTECH)
  • Ability for patients to contact physician/HMO on call
  • Mobile client to facilitate back-to-care teams (case management)
  • Giving clinicians access to clinical data at point of care (decision support - summaries, reminders)
  • Managing logistical data
  • Managing facility referrals
  • Getting realtime reports on phones to CHWs

Input from developers on the ground

GPRS availability - generally available, but in some areas may only be available part of the time. SMS is more reliable in terms of transaction where GPRS may fail, especially in low signal areas. However GPRS may not be reliable enough to target for development currently.

Africa gets to the internet via mobile phones. OpenMRS should follow that, and consider providing

OpenMRS is committed to supporting mobile apps in the API by version 1.9. OMRS needs a list of API calls the community needs. Target - in 1 month, mobile community will have the API calls they need.