When the OpenMRS community learned about the COVID-19 Solutions Fund set up by Mozilla as a part of their ongoing Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS) in early April, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to support our community’s COVID-19 response. The idea at the time? Build out a suite of science-based COVID-19 tools that could also be used for future disease outbreaks – and make them easily available to people looking for a way to manage COVID-19 patient data and surveillance efforts. OpenMRS Inc became one of 163 applicants from 30 countries that MOSS received within two months. We are honored to be among the six awardees to date, receiving a $49,754 award that will advance the COVID-19 Response Squad’s work over the next three months.
We are living in a time of rapid change and much has happened in the last two months. Later in April, the OpenMRS Community wanted to hear from OpenMRS implementers, local communities, and countries about the needs, plans, and solutions they were considering to support country-level COVID-19 responses. Over 25 people attended a special round of virtual “COVID-19 Lightning Talks,” with presentations and demos from Nepal, Kenya, Partners in Health, Regenstrief, OpenMRS, and Jembi Health Systems. Some of those who showcased their ideas for OpenMRS solutions in April have continued to expand and deploy them.
We also know a lot more about the virus than we did a few months ago. This enabled our COVID-19 Response squad to map the COVID-19 care cascade alongside workflows – and then go back to the Lightning Talks to see what functionality already exists among tools built by OpenMRS implementers. They also began breaking out different packages and thinking strategically about where OpenMRS is uniquely positioned to support health systems (hint: clinical care at a health facility) – and where it makes more sense to integrate with other COVID-19 digital tools, such as CommCare, Medic Mobile, DHIS2, and SORMAS.
All of this has led the COVID-19 Response Squad to approach building a suite of COVID-19 Response tools in a way that re-uses the best from our community, extending as needed. Through the MOSS award, the OpenMRS community is excited about providing additional support to the COVID-19 Response squad, collaborating with participating OpenMRS implementers and local communities, and taking concrete steps towards OpenMRS tools that will help improve the quality of life for people with COVID-19 and save lives.