In developing countries within Africa and Asia, integrated cloud-based mobile-accessible medical records are quickly becoming the norm. One such platform, DHIS2, incorporates mobile apps that can be used both offline and online in rural areas with Internet connectivity access issues.
The District Health Information System version 2 (DHIS2), developed at the University of Oslo, Norway, integrates health services data, nutrition, and immunization information. In some countries, private providers and urban clinics are pursuing integration with DHIS2. Software developers distributed around the world, including India, Ireland, Norway, Tanzania, the United States, and Vietnam, are contributing to this web-based cloud open source information system.
According to DHIS2, the platform runs health management information systems in 47 countries on four continents. The platform has been used for tracking maternal and newborn healthcare service utilization during Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. In the case of malaria public health in 1,900 reporting facilities in Zambia, DHIS2 was used to find out where help and medications are needed the most, with malaria “hotspot” maps. And, it is being implemented in other countries such as Mexico and Zambia.
Bangladesh’s move towards e-health is particularly striking. DHIS2 is used to help unify 13,000 community clinics, all public hospitals, and all university clinics. Bangladesh is moving to accommodate 98,000,000 individuals’ electronic records. This is nearly 12 times the patient population of the United States’s largest healthcare system, the Veterans Health Administration (VA), which serves 8,300,000 veterans per year. What makes this particularly noteworthy is the potential of DHIS2 for not just global health studies, but also for wide-scale population clinical research with a standardized information platform.
“The simple, low cost, yet effective solution has drawn remarkable global attention as an eHealth model,” said Abul Kalam Azad, a director at Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Health Services, in an article with the Daily Star.
“The eHealth system is generating evidence for decision-making, improving health system efficiency and quality, helping the ministry to reach the citizens with service, and bridging the urban-rural digital divide. The nationwide unified eHealth network has just started to reveal its incredible power to transform public health through mass empowerment.”
DHIS2 can also serve as a basic electronic medical record (EMR) that can track cases and individuals, missed appointments, diagnoses, chronic disease programs, and even SMS reminders. It runs on a wide variety of equipment: online and offline desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even regular cell phones through SMS and Java applets.
The DHIS2 App Store page features HTML5-based and Android apps, with dashboards, visualization tools, and data capturing. The apps themselves are free to download and demo. The software is released under the BSD license, meaning that not only can developers download the source code, but also modify and redistribute the software.