Evolution of the Bahmni Project


Bahmni is an open-source EMR & hospital information system targeted at low and middle-income country use cases. It is a product rather than a platform, and our highest priority is for it to be easy to implement without needing software development, but purely by doing configuration and IT work.

Bahmni is also an OpenMRS distribution, and its developers also contribute to openmrs-core and various shared OpenMRS modules. Many of you have already heard of the project, and seen it discussed in the #software:bahmni Talk category, but you can learn more at bahmni.org.


Over the last 5 years a ThoughtWorks-based team has set the Bahmni roadmap and done nearly all of the the product development. While we we have provided this early push, our vision has always been that Bahmni can only be transformational at scale if a broad community of stakeholders owns, governs, develops, and implements it, with ThoughtWorks as just one voice among many.

Guided by this long-term vision, we are going to transform the governance and leadership of the Bahmni project over the next few months. ThoughtWorks will continue to contribute to Bahmni (and OpenMRS) through implementation projects, and by investing some core roles–like me as an architect and/or tech lead–during this transformation and beyond.

The Future

ThoughtWorks is now stewarding the creation of a Bahmni Coalition, made up of organizations with a shared goal of making the overall Bahmni initiative successful (above and beyond their individual projects). When this group is finalized, it will take over full ownership and responsibility for the roadmap and core codebase of Bahmni.

This Bahmni coalition will include different types of stakeholders (implementation companies, end-consumers of the product, software development organizations, etc.). There will be a lightweight governance structure based on

  1. a governing committee, with voting members representing the most invested stakeholders, which will set shared project/product direction every few months
  2. smaller more active teams doing day-to-day work, like designing and building features based on real-world needs
  3. evolving the voting members over time, to continue to reflect those most invested in advancing the work

OpenMRS Participation?

We have a few questions for the OpenMRS community…

  1. Does OpenMRS want to participate as a member of the Bahmni Coalition?

  2. Might OpenMRS want to act as an umbrella organization that hosts this Bahmni Coalition? E.g. could “OpenMRS Bahmni” be a project under the OpenMRS umbrella, with its own governance and direction, alongside the Platform and Reference Application?

  3. If desired by other coalition members, would OpenMRS, Inc want to be the legal organization that hosts the coalition? This would involve holding IP, managing a shared bank account, and signing contracts, for example.


I was looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts on this, and figured I’d listen before I talked, but since (surprising to me) there’s been no responses to this yet, I give a little ping on this…

This is a big change for Bahmni, and potentially a big change for OpenMRS,

Although I think moving Bahmni to be governed by a broader set of stakeholders is a positive step, there is definitely a risk as Thoughtworks shifts to takes a less-active role that others won’t step up to the project moving forward.

From an OpenMRS perspective, I think it certainly seems obvious that OpenMRS should participate as a member of the coalition, but whether or not OpenMRS becomes the “umbrella” organization, or becomes the legal organization behind Bahmni, I think it warrants further discussion within the community.

I see an opportunity here for OpenMRS to use this to harness new resources, but I also see a real risk in the OpenMRS and it’s already overworked team stretching itself too thin.

Anyway, I could go into more detail, but wants to get other’s reactions, thoughts, and questions…

Take care, Mark


Thanks for pinging. I missed Darius’ post until you pinged.

I would think so. Bahmni is an important distribution of OpenMRS.

I think this is feasible if the coalition wanted it.

If the coalition wanted to go this way, I’m sure we could make it happen.

Personally, I’d like to see us take the opportunity to explore new models for sustaining core development both for Bahmni & the OpenMRS Platform.


Update: OpenMRS is looking seriously at playing the role of Comprehensive Fiscal Sponsor for Bahmni. See: OpenMRS and Bahmni Coalition

We will have an OpenMRS Town Hall discussion about this on Wednesday. Join us!