Information Technology in Healthcare

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  • Through this programme, the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) seeks to address limited information technology (IT) in the healthcare information systems of developing countries, which is mainly due to inadequate proper planning, the high cost of propriety software, and a lack of technical capacity in human resources. Development and deployment of open source health (OSH) and hospital information systems (HIS) will help these countries adopt IT in healthcare at affordable costs and sustain the long-term maintenance of these systems by drawing on locally-developed human resource capacity. Input from IT and healthcare experts with practical experience working in developing countries will be systematically sought in the development, customization and localization of the OSH and HIS modules. Capacity development and training programmes will be carried out to support the development of local human resources who can, in turn, fully support the implementation of the systems, using both face-to-face training as well as virtual modes. The training modules will emphasize exposure to the trainees on the complete cycle of the implementation of open source healthcare and hospital information systems projects. This will provide them with hands-on experience by the time they complete the training modules of the programme.

    Focal Point

    This programme will be led by Dr. Nurhizam Safie Mohd Satar, UNU-IIGH Research Fellow.


    The aim of this programme is to support the development and deployment of efficient and affordable health information systems in developing countries.


    These projects will be implemented by UNU-IIGH in collaboration with GNU Solidario, an NGO specializing in open source hospital and health information systems development. Apart from GNU Solidario, UNU-IIGH will collaborate with UNU-IIST in the development of a master’s programme in health informatics.


    Women will be encouraged to take part in the capacity building programme to provide the appropriate gender balance of the programme.

    Target Audience

    The stakeholders of this programme are ministries of health in developing countries, IT personnel in healthcare information systems and healthcare professionals such as medical doctors, nurses and pharmacists with interest in the development of open source health information system.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Contribution to the work of a civil society organization
    Target: Healthcare delivery organisations such as hospitals, healthcare centres and clinics in developing countries.
    How: Through open source healthcare information systems advocacy activities such as visits, conferences, publications and workshops.

    Impact: Curriculum development
    Target: The programme targets healthcare professionals in developing countries.
    How: The face-to-face and online training material will be certified through quality assurance and shall comply with the international curriculum development standard. The material would be the benchmark for any other open source health information systems in developing countries.

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: The programme targets healthcare professionals in developing countries.
    How: This goal will be achieved by supporting the development and building of human resource capacity in health information systems, which will help enhance efficiency and quality of care in health systems.

    Research Findings

    The expected outcome is a low cost, reliable and secure open source health information system being customised, localized and deployed in developing countries. Additionally, the information system shall be maintained by internal human resources through the capacity building programme.

    Policy Bridging

    Policy bridging is not yet achievable as the programme is in its early stage of implementation.

    Value Added

    This programme will position UNU-IIGH as a leader in advocating the use of open source software in healthcare and hospital information systems.


    Output of this open source software research and development will be accessible online and through workshops, publications and conferences.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    1 January 2012 – 31 December 2013 (2 years).


    Evaluation will be a combination of a user acceptance test during the development phases of healthcare and hospital information systems; questionnaires and a poll survey on system users’ satisfaction; and training assessment via quizzes and practical system set-up during the capacity building programme.


    The challenges for this programme are the lack of interest among healthcare professionals in open source software in healthcare, the healthcare policies of the countries, inadequate technical support and the lack of human and financial resources.

  • Dr. Mohamed Salleh Mohamed Yasin, Director
    United Nations University
    International Institute for Global Health
    HUKM Complex
    Faculty of Medicine
    Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
    Jalan Yaacob Latiff
    56000 Cheras
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    T: +60 3 9171-5394
    F: +60 3 9171-5402