Bahmni: Free Open source Modular EMR & Hospital System
Bahmni EMR is an open source solution aimed for supporting health-care services in rural area. It has been built over open source standards and runs on CentOS Linux which is an enterprise-grade community supported stable and powerful Linux Distribution.
Bahmni features may look standard and very similar to many current commercial EMR solutions, But those features are covering up most of the daily used processes and activities in clinical practice. Even more Bahmni is a modular system which means experienced developers can add more modules and extend it's features.
The community - Bahmni Coalition.
Before we jump into the features of Bahmni lets define what makes it different than other attempts or open source EMR. Unlike most of the health-care and medical based open source solutions, Bahmni built on top of community supported structure and user feedback system to govern the production to ensure it's continuity, They are providing very solid and powerful umbrella for extending the market of their solution and the increase the value of it. As they value the implementers and third party service providers which can apply as partner, they also do listen back to their users.
Some of Bahmni Coalition members are basically medical aid organisations dedicated to deliver health-care services to rural areas and low income environment with very limited resources to run the enterprise solution or to get the experienced users to work with complicated and advanced systems. As described by " Arvind Sethia "Bahmni is Designed for People with Low Digital Literacy, and to run in low resource environments.
Successful implementations in several countries and different health-care settings*
Regarding to the flexibility and solid governance model of the core team and Bahmni coalition, Bahmni through it's implementers managed to implement Bahmni in many hospitals in different countries as India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Philippines.
The Features and the core Modules.
- Patient Registration
- Patient Records Management
- In-patient Management : includes patients transfer, discharge and admission events, Ward management, beds monitoring.
- Patients Lab management including Sample Tracking
- Embedded Laboratory Management Patient centred to track and report patient samples.
- PACS/ DICOM Ready*
- Stock Management
- Billing and Accounting
- Reporting System which has the exporting set ready for exporting to Microsoft office excel and spreadsheet applications.
The usability* The User Interface and work flow.
Bahmni has very easy and simple to use user-interface, which fits different users from different level IT backgrounds. It has easy navigation to navigate to the required sections with few clicks, using Information Cards to display the information based on priority and highlighting the important data. It has many data visualisation tools to display results as growth chart, BMI chart, and very useful patient monitoring time over their visits to the clinic.
Medication follow-up diagram. is one of the most usable and featured tool for doctors to keep track of patient medications.
Implementation : Installation, configuration, and support.
Its an open source, but based on solid technology, community based enterprise Linux distribution, Available to download and install for free, but installation, configuration and managing it will require certain set of technical skills. Bahmni has many implementers providing implementation service in different countries. but business owner or managers may look for good Linux Administrator or advanced Linux user to handle the installation and provide support if you are not planning to hire a company to implement. Installation is not easy for users with no or limited Linux experience and without coding capability.
Modules and Integrations
" If you system is not extendable, it's dead ", Bahmni seems to apply that quote very well as they released different modules as core modules to add more functionalities to the system or integration modules to integrate their system with other solutions like OpenERP, and Service Integration like AWS ( Amazon Web Services ).
Trouble in connection? use Offline module*
Even though the solution is solid and built to run on one of the most security oriented Linux distribution, It still needs good system admin to keep it secure, upgraded, and maintained. Does not mean it's a solid build as well as it's free and open source, It just needs install, run and forget as many business owner or managers may think.
Bahmni may be introduced and begin effectively used in some developing countries, with good intentions to provide a powerful solution and effective tools for doctors working in such areas, but it also has the features to compete with commercial based EMR solutions. But features are not enough to compete, from my point of view as a doctor and a developer I believe Bahmni is gaining more ground because It's community driven model and how the core team utilise that to gain more users. Having more users and Listening to them to improve the solution, gaining more advanced users with different IT and Medical experience and expanding the community will make Bahmni compete more with the commercial based solution in other countries.