OpenMRS UI/UX Toolkit Design for Electronic Medical Records/eHealth Usage

Did some research:

If we are talking about grants strictly for UI/UX design: I didn’t found one and I don’t think there is one. This topic is probably not attractive for potential donors and various foundations.

Maybe we could add this to one of more general opportunities (like Cisco Grant), but then we would need then to show how UI/UX redesign would help people in need and show it’s social value. Most important, we would also need budget (not specific, but more or less) for this before writing any proposal, just to know if we can fit it into various grants limits.

If we are talking about organizations, there are some design non-profit companies that are specializing with work for social good projects. Still, their work isn’t free, just about half as expensive than services from traditional companies. I’ve found only one organization, that offers help with finding funding for their work - I’ve filled out their contact form from website, if there’s gonna be any feedback from them, I’ll let you know.

There are some websites that are connecting specialist (also UX/UI ones) with non-profits for volunteer work, if you are interested, we could try posting requests on them.

Not sure if this helped, if you have any questions, let me know.

A whilie ago, I learned that USAID and Gates have come up with a set of resources called Design for Health. I went poking around and there are quite a few resources (Why design for health?) that could be used to make the connection between UI/UX redesign and broader social value.

Here are the links to the main Design for Health website and a Devex article.


Thank you some much! This helps me not only as a resource for future proposals, but we can also reach out to some of the participating organizations from Design for Health and ask them if they can help us in any way with this project.

EDIT: I’ve send e-mail to 4 different organizations from Design for Health list. If I get any response from them, I’ll paste it in the reply.

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I’ve got response from Dalberg (Robert Fabricant):

Hi Maciej: we are very familiar with OpenMRS and its high level of adoption and use in public health systems. our team would love to have the opportunity to collaborate with you and develop a design toolkit. you are right that it can be tricky to get funders to invest purely in UX support. often it is best positioned as part of a broader effort to either increase adoption and sustainability in key markets, or else improve usage and provide better data and performance metrics. Happy to jump on a call next week to discuss if that would be helpful. And happy to work with you to approach some key funders together to see if we can crack this nut. Best, [R]

Here you can find some information about them, in a nutshell, they are a design (and also consulting, research, data, etc.) company focused on social impact projects.

Here is my e-mail, that I’ve sent to them (for context):

Maciej Neumann SolDevelo Social Impact Foundation on behalf of OpenMRS community Hello, Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS) is an open source health information technology system. It is the most used medical record system platform in developing countries. OpenMRS system works in over 3,000 medical sites for about 8.7 million patients in over 64 countries, including South Africa, Rwanda, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Haiti, India, China, United States, Pakistan, the Philippines, and many others ( The annual report for specific details about our users, as well our developer community: OpenMRS was created as a response to the challenges presented by pandemics of epic proportions, as over 40 million people are infected with diseases such as HIV/AIDS, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis or malaria. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure adequate and appropriate protection of the patients, communities, and healthcare workers that document medical care using OpenMRS. We are thinking right now about creating OpenMRS UI/UX Toolkit Design for Electronic Medical Records/eHealth Usage. Unfortunately, during our work on this topic we found out that UI/UX work is a specialized skill and cannot be done by volunteer resources alone. We want to ask you about, if you can help us in any way with this topic. We found out, that you are one of the supporting organizations of “Design for Health”. Can you recommend us any foundation or grant, which could help us fund this project? Do you know any organization that could show us the best approach for this?

Who would be interested in participating in this call? @ssmusoke, @c.antwi do you have time next week? Anyone else from @Leadership ? I would like to join in this call and prepare some funding opportunities, that maybe could fit in this project - but we also have to choose date and hour that could be right for everyone.

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I would like to be involved. Thanks for all that you are doing.

I’d like to hear more - count me in.

Hi There

Apologies for the late reply, I was away on leave. Definitely let us schedule a call as soon as possible.


Did this call happen?

@maciej Did this call ever happen? What was the outcome?

Call did not happen - I didn’t get the reply from them about proposed date and time of the meeting. I think we could try again (there was some obvious problems with communication, both between us and with them), but we would need someone to organize it and keep an eye on this.

Dalberg reached out about re-scheduling this call - good timing considering our discussions around OpenMRS Flow!

If you are interested in participating in this initial call, please share your availability using this Doodle poll.

@ssmusoke @c.antwi @gschmidt @jteich @isaacholeman @mogoodrich @jdick

Thanks for looping me in @jennifer! I’m at the Design for Health conference with Pragya Mishra from Dalberg Design and I’ll ask if she’s involved in this project at all. I’ve also sent this to the designers at Medic Mobile in case the conversation ends up happening at a time that I’m not able to make.

Thanks for setting this up. Also, @maciej - did IDEO get back to you last year?

Almost weekly I speak with people who are interested in participating in such a community around best practices for EHR UX/UI with sample design component libraries, icons, specifications, etc. A place to bring together: UX designers, EHR researchers, EHR users, and implementors.

From my perspective, the Community Health Toolkit (CHT) may be the right place to build this community.

The CHT provides a neutral 3rd party environment where experts from different medical record communities and apps can collaborate. I think OpenMRS community can bring to CHT expertise in EHR specific UX principles, and CHT’s founding steward, Medic Mobile, can bring experience in modern design methodology.

A hard part will be developing an open-source design community. My impression is that the way of how open-source design communities operate is nowhere as developed as open-source software.

If there was a way to involve groups like Dalberg, IDEO, and others who are already contracted for global health IT work in other projects; and open-source their research, designs, and expertise back into the CHT community, I think that would be really cool.


This is an exciting idea @gschmidt, and I know others in the CHT community would be excited to participate. I agree that the design community has less experience/track-record with open source collaboration than the software community, but that also means we can try something new! I’m in Dakar right now for the Design for Health meeting and had some great conversations with people from Dalberg, IDEO, as well as smaller global health and development focused design consultancies like Sonder, The Nairobi Design Institute, and Vihara. We may lack the time/resources to involve every firm from the very beginning, but talking about a vision like that might influence how we organize the work. I know the Medic Mobile design team would be stoked to help coordinate such an effort.

Greg, I am a little confused about the CHT community being the place to build the design community… it may be, but it traditionally has not focused on exactly the same use cases as OpenMRS. There clearly is some overlap, and it might be that extending the design community needs not only to go beyond the EHR platform specificity, but also mobile platform specificity too. In the past, OpenROSA was the attempt to bring together the mHealth platforms in a collaboration, but I don’t think it really went far. There is as much, or perhaps even more, competition among the mHealth organizations as the EHR platforms. In many respects, I think it makes more sense to try to standardize the centralized representation/platform and allow an ecosystem of mobile platforms to co-exist than the other way around. No negative commentary on Medic Mobile intended! Just want to make sure that we have the historical perspective. I am excited about the opportunity for collaboration regardless of the focal point.

@akanter, thanks for sharing the historical perspective! There’s always so much to be gained by exchanging knowledge and learning from those working on the same issues. I can see where the interest in a design community is coming from.

During sessions in Nairobi and other conversations, I heard many BAs and designers ask “how can we better integrate design into our process here in the OpenMRS community?” - where many developers and implementers have a strong presence. This is an excellent question - and raises additional questions, such as:

  • How can we create and organize a more distinct space within our community specifically for BAs and designers that responds to their interests and needs?
  • How can we then leverage our shared spaces to create greater engagement, connection, and collaboration between our designers, users, developers, and implementers?

Getting back to the original topic, I’ve scheduled a call with Dalberg for Thursday, 18 April at 8:30pm UTC | 4:30pm Boston | 1:30pm Seattle.

Here’s a tentative agenda:

  • Overview: OpenMRS Community, Dalberg
  • Current and potential community projects involving design
  • Discussion: Opportunities for collaboration

To join the call using Audio, Chat, & Screen Sharing please use the latest Firefox, Chrome, or other WebRTC-compatible browser and go to

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@jennifer is this on the OpenMRS Calendar?

@gschmidt Sorry for the late response. Here is the mail I’ve got from Ideo (pretty standard, I guess):

Hi Maciej,

Thanks so much for reaching out to, we appreciate your interest in our organization and human-centered design!

Given the scope of the design opportunity, there likely isn’t a fit with our organizational priorities at this time, but we are happy to point you to individuals and other firms that might be more relevant. Please see the attached referral list and best of luck with your project.

Again, we greatly appreciate your interest; please do not hesitate to reach out in the future if you see another potential area to engage with us.

All the best,

Brynn Kolada

In the attachment was a list of companies similar to the IDEO, but all of them were for-profit, without any CSR / Social Impact programs, that OpenMRS could apply for.

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Hey @akanter, I agree that where/how to organize such a project feels a little confusing right now :). I’m optimistic we could work this out though in a way that gets clearer over time.

As an organization, Medic Mobile is interested in exploring how we might implement OpenMRS in tandem with the CHT, and how we as an organization might contribute to the OMRS community. We have a strong UI/UX team and this seems like an area we might be able to add value. That interest is distinct from our organization’s contributions to the CHT, though recently we’ve been discovering that there’s more overlap in needed UI components than we had previously realized. Part of what what interests me about this project is that contributing to design projects for OpenMRS might teach the Medic Mobile team things that we could also contribute back to the CHT. So there is overlap in OMRS and CHT interests/needs here. If this sort of UI/UX project proves useful, it will probably involve a series of conversations in various places and Medic Mobile taking part doesn’t need to mean the conversation happens in any particular place.

I also agree that it’s probably best for the OpenMRS community if we try to separate a conversation about how to improve OpenMRS UI/UX design from conversations about how the OMRS platform interacts with the various mobile technologies in this space (although OMRS-CHT integration is a topic I’ll certainly be interested in on other threads!). I think we can achieve this by focusing this project on reusable UI components and UX design patterns that can be implemented by any OMRS front end framework. Doing something of this kind on UI/UX is important not just for users’ quality of life, but also because of the growing evidence that usability has a big impact on quality of care (see e.g. 1, 2). There are good examples of open source UI component libraries that we could draw from directly or/and use as inspiration for how to establish the kind of UI library that developers can find helpful and not feel constrained by. For example I think one of the key questions we could start with is, how might we use Google’s Material Design spec to establish a set of EHR UI components that follow usability and accessibility conventions and agree with web design patterns that users are likely to already be familiar with?

@gschmidt, does this resonate with how you’re thinking about the project? And @akanter, I’d be curious to hear if this framing of the project feels like it answers your questions reasonably well, or if you have additional ideas/suggestions about how to approach this sort of UI/UX agenda?

  1. Enhancing patient safety and quality of care by improving the usability of electronic health record systems: recommendations from AMIA
  2. Identifying Electronic Health Record Usability And Safety Challenges In Pediatric Settings

Hi @akanter, @isaacholeman’s post above does a good job explaining how we see User Interface & Technology as complimentary, but distinct areas for collaboration in health informatics. I’d suggest a third pillar may be ‘reporting & data standards’ (indicators, concept dictionaries, etc).

The conversations Isaac and I have had around UX collaboration, isn’t about prescribing a specific method on how EHR / mHealth tools are to be designed, but provide the right forum to shared R&D in this area, and make it easy to find the best practices, and even working components.

The concept of collaborating on a ‘Component Library / Toolkit’ provides two benefits. It provides

  1. An outlined set of areas where the UX community can share R&D on past work in this area
  2. A usable set of components that can be used in the code.

For instance, the ‘medication list’ components, can include past R&D groups have done in this area, screenshots, examples of good & bad medication lists, and past papers published on this. It can also host a series of functional medication lists React and Angular components that can be used directly in the code. [If on the technical side, we standardize the data calls using FHIR for these elements it increase their cross-application functionality].

Although Medic Mobile’s tools are primarily for mHealth and CHW, they do render similar types of information - such as showing medication lists, family relationships, immunization status, to-do lists, patient demographics, blood pressures, prenatal histories.