OpenMRS and Bahmni Coalition

As you know from @darius posting in May , a Bahmni coalition is being formed to steward the Bahmni distribution going forward. As part of that, OpenMRS has been asked to participate in that coalition as the fiscal sponsor of any legal and financial agreements, and as the holding entity of the Bahmni IP and assets. This level of agreement requires the Inc and BoD participation.

As the BoD community member, I’m committed to ensuring we only move forward with strategies that are a good fit for the community. So I’ve been working with @darius, @terry, and @paul to put together a formal proposal to the OpenMRS BoD for approval. We’ve been having a lot of conversations with other open source communities, fiscal sponsors, non-profits with similar missions, and non-profit and open source lawyers to better understand possible strategies and the implications of those. The full proposal is attached, but the summary of that proposal is:

  • OpenMRS would be the legal signer for any agreements for the Bahmni coalition to perform work.
  • OpenMRS is responsible for ensuring deliverables are met in the agreements.
  • OpenMRS will receive an indirect rate to pay for oversight and management of those contracts.

In our research, I found this is a really common way for open source communities and non-profits to make progress in their mission. There’s some risk of course, but it boils down to trust and commitment to make the relationship a win-win for both parties. I think it’s a good move for us. But I really want to know what everyone thinks about this being part of our community and our mission. I encourage and appreciate any thoughts and opinions on it.

P.S. - I’m happy to share any and all details about the conversations I’ve had and the details about how fiscal sponsorships work, but I didn’t want to create a super lengthy post. If you want me to post more on these details, feel free to request that and I will be happy to do so!


I think that is is incredibly important to have a discussion about what OpenMRS can learn from the Bahmni experience and whether this is an opportunity for OpenMRS to accelerate our effort. We should be working to better our community and the implementation of our vision within the global community, and the Bahmni coalition should part of that (if not a critical part). Perhaps the community could weigh in on an incremental path of starting with fiscal sponsorship and then enhancing to a bigger role for OpenMRS.

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Thank you for sharing this information. I am aware about the discussions.

I am fully supportive of efforts and discussions towards establishing and making this coalition work primarily for two key reasons;

  1. There is no doubt that what Bahmni as a product provides is required in the community. Multiple members of the community have for a long time required a well thought out and engineered hospital wide system, and this need is rapidly growing. I have been involved in several OpenMRS implementations and I can mention several countries in Africa particularly which are either currently ready or rapidly evolving to a place they will need a hospital information system. These countries are also probably using OpenMRS at national level. IMHO, it has been a missed opportunity when it has been clear to these countries/members about practically viable evolutionary pathways from an EMR to a hospital information system. I therefore hope that OpenMRS Inc leadership will specifically address this real need as part of these discussions.
  2. ThoughtWorks have provided an opportunity for the OpenMRS community to learn about models (including business models which I think OpenMRS need to invest a lot more for in as a resource for its members) that are useful to seriously consider for the success of OpenMRS distributions and living up to its mission. The highly managed process that has seen TW allocate resources and closely manage the development process provides us a lot of insights and lessons that are useful in the growth and development path of OpenMRS.


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