OpenMRS for Oncology

Dear community,

Many of you have heard me sing the “OpenMRS for Oncology” song for two years now, and in Malawi last year, we proposed to write up a concept note and try to look for funding to support building oncology functionality in OpenMRS.

Luckily, IBM Foundation, American Cancer Society and Clinton Health Access Initiative as well as other cancer care stakeholders in Africa (UNC Malawi, Partners in Health) are also very interested in this and are joining us to get things going.

Already, IBM, ACS and CHAI are working with oncologists and other stakeholders in Africa to tackle the problem of chemotherapy availability with tools like ChemoQuant (see also this video overview: and ChemoFinder (under development), in addition to getting big pharma to provide quality chemo at cheaper cost. They have also worked with oncologists from Africa and the US to develop cancer treatment guidelines that are harmonized for Africa.

Now, efforts are also being put in developing electronic medical records to enhance patient care through better clinical documentation, data management and use of EMR functionalities such as CDSS based on the guidelines. We therefore had a design workshop and requirements elicitation/prioritization meeting at PIH offices in Boston on 7th and 8th May 2018 to kick this off. Some of the attendees of the meeting were @ball @mseaton, and @ddesimone from PIH; Joel, Todd, Daniel Strauss, Fernando and @lexicas from IBM, as well as Matthew Painschab, MD (UNC Malawi), Dayo Fadelu (Dana Farber) and myself from the Uganda Cancer Institute.

We agreed to start by working on the order entry especially for chemo and related orders (e.g. labs) and safety checks, as well as oncology specific documentation (intake and diagnosis, staging and treatment forms). We already want to have a MVP by September. IBM and PIH are providing resources/developers but we need many more from the community to work on this. Already there are some resources (forms/modules/etc) in OpenMRS that we can reuse or extend and so we hope it should be easier.

@ball already opened up a public GitHub repo for this project and we invite many people to join. We hope you can help spread the word and bring in as many members in the community to contribute. @mseaton shall give more technical details in a community kickoff meeting (online) which is planned soon. @ddesimone has written down some high level requirements that he can share with everyone (maybe in the github repo or on JIRA?). You are welcom to look at my thesis on requirements for an oncology EMR at the UCI in the meantime.

This is very exciting for me and I’m sure for all others working in cancer care. I am therefore calling up on you all to rally behind this project and contribute as much as you can.

Let’s do this! :muscle:


Just wanted to publicly voice my support for the project and offer up CIEL support for the concept dictionary requirements :slight_smile:


I should also add that we have already been engaging @ssmusoke and other members at METS and @ugandaemr so there is local support.

And, @ddesimone shared the notes from the meeting which is a draft of the more focused requirements:

Thanks for posting this @johnblack and thanks to @ddesimone for the notes. I was really bummed that I couldn’t make it to this workshop. Looking forward to reading through the notes. :slight_smile:

And FYI…those notes are just the requirements we captured for the Chemo order/tracking workflow. We also came up with a (somewhat) prioritized list of functions we would eventually like to have in an Oncology EMR. I have some other notes that I will work with @lexicas to get out.

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Another resource:

Google Drive folder for the OpenMRS Oncology Workshop in Boston in May 2018

If anyone is at MedInfo2019 in Lyon and wants to attend the presentation about this, I will present on Wednesday 28th in the morning. Otherwise, here is the link to the paper: