Transitioning from paper

We’re implementing OpenMRS in the only psychiatric hospital in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Right now, records for 50,000 patients are all paper - what a mess! Assuming we have the OpenMRS systems available and we know how to use them, how have people managed the process of transitioning from paper? Is there a standardized process for approaching this huge change, in terms of what patients or parts of records to start with? Are there accepted protocols for that data entry? Plans for training of users etc?

We can’t thank this community enough. Best of luck with your amazing work.


Hi John, Great to e-meet you, and thank you for sharing this really wonderful news! I’ll get back to you with some existing guidance/resources that I can find (we have quite a lot of Implementation Documentation e.g. here, I’ll comb through and see if I can find something specific for your needs too); for now I’ll also CC some folks who have gone through this process a number of times and will likely have their own expert advice.

CCing a few implementation gurus: @ssmusoke @ball @ddesimone @eachillah @mksd @jdick @wanyee

It sounds like you are especially interested in getting the data (currently in paper) into the system, correct? If I recall correctly, the general process at Ampath in Kenya was (1) they i.d.'d a way of prioritizing the data (e.g. starting with active patients/patients most likely to return in the coming months) and (2) employed local medical students or partnered with the local medical insitute to engage medical interns in entering the data into the system, so that there would be data ready-to-go in the system for the point-of-care providers. (Over to @jdick or @eachillah to correct me or add color.)

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Hey John,

I’m Zuzanna and I work with OpenMRS for a few years. Currently, with Website Design Squad we’re building a new OpenMRS website which will be very soon publishing. I decided to write to you because I’ve heard about great projects and implementations in the community, but I couldn’t take part in any of them.

I would like to tell your story to a wider group of people. Surely your case is interesting and may become inspiring to others. I was thinking about an article or interview, depending on what you prefer. We could describe how the implementation go (without any secret data), how OpenMRS changes work of the whole hospital and what it gives you intangible. It doesn’t have to be long or requiring a lot of time from you. I need only some content to tell it nicely.

If you want, we could share it on OpenMRS’ blog, Wiki, your website or SolDevelo Foundation’s website (which I work in).

Best, Zuzanna

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This is as much about the users having the confidence and trust in OpenMRS to manage quality data as it is about making the transition itself. In many cases, it also comes down to facility leadership and other champion users embracing the transition.

I believe @aojwang @dictoo2002 @ningosi have some experience with this as well.

Welcome @piettejd2000 !

Partners In Health (PIH) has been providing Mental Health care for years. At most of our 10 sites, we use OpenMRS to record Mental Health assessments for outpatients.

This document describes the Haiti implementation:

PIH helps support the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Teaching Hospital. Unfortunately we do not have an EMR at that facility. We’d be interested to hear about your experiences.

FYI @kbediri @vamba


Thanks for tagging me in this, @jennifer. Our approach is similar to what @grace has highlighted for Ampath although ours is more service delivery partner led. The practice is to gradually prioritize records of active patients (those with upcoming appointments) focusing on key program enrollments and the last few visits’ data that will be helpful in the next appointment. This is always important to enable health facilities at least report on the important reporting indicators especially those on active clients/patients. Inactive patients’ records are then transitioned once the above phase is completed and it can be accelerated by increasing the staff who enter the data into the system.

Let me tag in @botienoh for any additional input.