Open source challenges for hospital information system (HIS) in developing countries: a pilot project in Mali

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2010 Apr 16;10:22. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-10-22.


Background: We are currently witnessing a significant increase in use of Open Source tools in the field of health. Our study aims to research the potential of these software packages for developing countries. Our experiment was conducted at the Centre Hospitalier Mere Enfant in Mali.

Methods: After reviewing several Open Source tools in the field of hospital information systems, Mediboard software was chosen for our study. To ensure the completeness of Mediboard in relation to the functionality required for a hospital information system, its features were compared to those of a well-defined comprehensive record management tool set up at the University Hospital "La Timone" of Marseilles in France. It was then installed on two Linux servers: a first server for testing and validation of different modules, and a second one for the deployed full implementation. After several months of use, we have evaluated the usability aspects of the system including feedback from end-users through a questionnaire.

Results: Initial results showed the potential of Open Source in the field of health IT for developing countries like Mali.Five main modules have been fully implemented: patient administrative and medical records management of hospital activities, tracking of practitioners' activities, infrastructure management and the billing system. This last component of the system has been fully developed by the local Mali team.The evaluation showed that the system is broadly accepted by all the users who participated in the study. 77% of the participants found the system useful; 85% found it easy; 100% of them believe the system increases the reliability of data. The same proportion encourages the continuation of the experiment and its expansion throughout the hospital.

Conclusions: In light of the results, we can conclude that the objective of our study was reached. However, it is important to take into account the recommendations and the challenges discussed here to avoid several potential pitfalls specific to the context of Africa.Our future work will target the full integration of the billing module in Mediboard and an expanded implementation throughout the hospital.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Computers
  • Developing Countries
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Ergonomics
  • Hospital Information Systems* / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Property
  • Mali
  • Pilot Projects
  • Software*
  • User-Computer Interface