Open Standards and Open Architecture in Global Health: Saving Lives with Open Source

Location: E146 Level: Novice
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The notions of open architecture and open standards both hold a great deal of promise. Attempts to implement and scale Health IT solutions throughout much of the developed world (and the plethora of legacy systems communicating with proprietary messaging) quickly taught us the value for such standards to promote interoperability. We will discuss how the use of open architecture in one large-scale national project allowed aspects of work to continue uninterrupted while by taking advantage of the ability to swap out components as needed. As well as through the adoption and application of open standards for interoperability can be promoted and supported.

During this talk you will hear perspectives from various stakeholders in this project about:

  • How some of the standards have been developed and validated,
  • Some of the practical issues faced with using standards in countries that had limited participation in the development of those standards,
  • How using open Open Standards for Health IT benefits funders and in-country stakeholders, and
  • How the strategic reuse of materials and artifacts can provide a significant time and effort advantage for other participants.

We will provide real-world practical advice on incorporating open standards into Health IT software, and will show the impact this is having on the ground — and how open systems are actually saving lives.

Photo of Paul Biondich

Paul Biondich


I am a medical informatics researcher and pediatrician whose research interests include informatics interventions in resource constrained environments, decision support systems and controlled medical vocabularies. I am the co-founder and leader of OpenMRS, an open source medical record system platform to support underserved populations, which is currently deployed in over 40 countries throughout the world. I also oversee infomatics activities at the first implementation of OpenMRS: the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV (AMPATH) in Eldoret, Kenya. These projects provide a rich substrate that allows me to study these unique environments and learn the effectiveness of various health informatics interventions applied to these settings. I participate in international architectural development efforts, both through my leadership of a WHO Collaborating Centre in Medical Informatics, and in the formation of a new adaptive technical assistance community that supports national planning and implementation of health information sharing architectures (OpenHIE).

Photo of Derek Ritz

Derek Ritz

ecGroup Inc.

Derek Ritz is the principal consultant at ecGroup Inc., based in Ancaster, Canada. He is an advisor to public and private sector clients in Canada and internationally regarding m/eHealth strategy, architecture, implementation and adoption.

Derek is a delegate of Canada to ISO/TC-215 (Health Informatics) and was the inaugural vice-Chair of Canada Health Infoway’s Infostructure & Architecture Standards Collaborative Working Group. In 2007, he helped fund and launch Canada’s national EHR architectural Reference Implementation at the Mohawk Applied Research Centre in Health Informatics (MARC-HI). Since 2010, Derek has been involved in numerous global m/eHealth projects, including leading an IDRC-funded project to establish the Health Enterprise Architecture Lab (HEAL) at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa.

Photo of Dykki Settle

Dykki Settle

IntraHealth International

Dykki Settle leads IntraHealth and CapacityPlus endeavors in health worker informatics, bringing a health worker-centered approach to the availability and use of high quality information for better health. Settle leads the global development and implementation community for the open source iHRIS suite human resources for health information solutions.  Other areas of leadership include helping countries build absorptive capacity for new health technologies and supporting regional and country health organizations to realize the power of open source for global health. Settle began his career as the first webmaster for the SunSITE project—now, one of the earliest, largest and longest-running online libraries of open resources.

Photo of Eduardo Jezierski

Eduardo Jezierski


Eduardo is the CTO of InSTEDD – working to create a world where
communities everywhere design and use technology to continuously
improve their health, safety and development. InSTEDD does it with
agile design in the field, local Innovation Labs, and an open-source
platform of mobile and cloud technologies that have improved lives
around the world, from Haiti to villages in South East Asia.


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