Business Development Session Notes

Presenter: Tom ? – oversees implementation activities

Key themes

  1. Obligation of long-term support
  2. Concentration of professionals
  3. Business opportunity
  4. Creating a guaranteed market
  5. Providing a service
  6. Hybrid examples
  7. "Play to your strengths"


  • Kenya
    • They are creating generic standards for those in Kenya who want to develop health care systems. Using HL7, ISO, and other standards.
    • Three key systems: OpenMRS, IQ care, one from Columbia University.
    • What is necessary to move something like OpenMRS up to the standards in Kenya?
    • How can the OpenMRS community or private sector help to develop and evolve standards?
    • Tom imagines a world where people in Kenya can deploy and maintain health care ICT's over the long term ... which means new business opportunities.
  • Latin America
    • Joaquin saw many cases where lots of money was being spent but not much happened.
    • Understand the business value, and the programmers will be brought on to the project.
  • Nigeria
    • Still a very new business.
    • They had to find some partners with expertise in business skills.
    • Found much wasted resources in health IT ... OpenMRS can help meet needs and reduce waste.
    • They will start by implementing in about 30 sites.
    • Need for long-term support and capacity building, and sustainable growth.
  • eHealth Nigeria
    • Working for 2 years on implementing OpenMRS
    • EMR's are not new - they've been tried through the past.
    • The people who start doing it first need to work on standards, quality, setting good examples, etc.
    • Many IT people think they have enough technical knowledge to do something like implement OpenMRS, but they really don't – they need training.
  • Indonesia
    • Assessment project. A local company was used to facilitate it, and that small business were very successful.
    • Strong business model for such work.
  • Rwanda
    • They tend to feel they don't have much IT resources.
    • PIH created a training program for people to learn/develop/use OpenMRS.
  • Malawi
    • 35% of health care is provided by private organizations and are funded by user fees. (Similar percentages elsewhere too.)
    • The OpenMRS community hasn't historically addressed those types of organizations.

Questions and challenges

  • Much of the talent and skills are in the capitals and large towns, which could cause challenges.
  • Could government contract with private sector to provide services to more remote locations in district hospitals, etc.? One approach is to work within the community to create start-up businesses together.
  • How can we find or create people/teams with skills in IT and in the health domain? (This happens around the world, regardless of resources.)
    • Joaquin looked for people with different skills than his. They are still missing a traditional business expert.
  • It's important to develop strong partnerships or agreements.
  • Many countries (e.g., Nigeria) don't have any policy at all in ICT's (and health care IT). We should step up to help them create it.
  • An investment has to be made to create and maintain the "collaborative ecosystem" necessary for bussinesses to be created around an open source project.
  • How can the new OpenMRS not-for-profit organization support and grow the community? It commits to helping businesses get started and the businesses commit to helping develop and grow the software.
  • Where are the key "clean" implementations that can be demonstrated as an ideal usage of OpenMRS?
  • The private market isn't interested in health IT yet, and new computer science students often turn to working on things where they can make money (the things private industry is interested in).
  • Marketing will probably be very important to build the business cases for impelemting OpenMRS. How can we create, share, and demonstrate example case studies?
    • It's important to demonstrate that OpenMRS is successful in a context similiar to the people considering adopting it.
  • Many people within the OpenMRS community are connected to universities. Can business schools partner with OpenMRS for training and get people with those skills to be a part of the community? (Business development skills)
  • What can we learn from other open source communities that have led to creation of businesses?
  • Implementations funded by research questions are very different than implementations funded by business models/value.
  • It's important to determine who is the actual "purchaser" and then figure out the best way to make the case to them.