The government of Albania should benefit from using free and open source for managing the country’s hospitals and health clinics, says Gjergj Sheldija. The ICT consultant is implementing Care2x, an open source Hospital Information System (HIS) for the Mother Teresa Hospital in Tirana.
According to mr Sheldija, the government is currently considering a national HIS, and is weighing the pro’s and con’s of proprietary versus free software alternatives.
The Care2x implementation in the Mother Teresa Hospital is the largest open source implementation in the country, says mr Sheldija. “It is used to manage 100,000 out-patients per year, for all of the in-patients, the hospital pharmacy and the billing department.”
Among the hospital’s advantages of using open source software are the absence of costs needed for proprietary software licences, mr Sheldija says. “Server, database, the solution itself and even the reporting tools are free software.” The hospital is also not locked in to any software vendor.
Invoice or patient
Software developer Sheldija has been involved in the development of Care2x since 2008. The past four years he was the software project’s release manager. The solution currently has about a hundred developers, he says.
Last week Sunday at the Software Freedom Kosova 2014 conference in Prishtina (Kosovo), the software engineer gave a presentation on the Mother Teresa Hospital implementation of Care2x. “There are two ways to begin managing a health centre’s workflow: you can start with the invoice, or you can start with the patient. Care2x does the latter.” The software’s original author, Elpidio Latorilla, worked as a nurse in a German hospital, he says. “This explains why the workflow is understood by the hospital’s staff. It is also the reason for its flexibility, making it easy to adapted to new hospital scenario’s.”
The ICT consultant also explained how the HIS database was audited and certified by the state auditor last year. “This puts us on par with the ICT systems used in Albania’s courts and the national ID card”, he said.
The past few years, Sheldija and colleagues have been trying to show the government the advantages of using a HIS based on free software. “We’ve spoken with the ministry, we talked with the Health Insurer Fund. The previous government was enthusiastic to see Care2x’s success. We hope to also convince the current government.”
Free and open source software is commonly used by public administrations in Albania, according to a report published earlier this year by the Ministry of Innovation and Public Administration.