Open source software – a key component of E-health in Developing nations
Parry, DT; Parry, EC; Chebi, A; Dorji, P; Stone, P
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The global burden of disease falls most heavily on people in developing countries. Few resources for healthcare, geographical and infrastructure issues, lack of trained staff, language and cultural diversity and political instability all affect the ability of health providers to support effective and efficient healthcare. Health information systems are a key aspect of improving healthcare, but existing systems are often expensive and unsuitable. Open source software appears to be a promising avenue for quickly and cheaply introducing health information systems that are appropriate for developing nations. This article describes some aspects of open source e-health software that are particularly relevant to developing nations, issues and problems that may arise and suggests some future areas for research and action. Suggestions for critical success factors are included. Much of the discussion will be related to a case study of a training and e-health project, currently running in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.