OpenMRS & OpenEMR Community Members Announce LibreHealth: New Software Freedom Conservancy community to champion innovation in Health IT

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Thu Nov 10 19:30:55 UTC 2016

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PORTLAND, OREGON and BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, November 10, 2016 -- Senior
contributors and leaders from OpenMRS & OpenEMR, the two leading open source
Health IT platforms, have announced the formation of LibreHealth, a new
initiative to expand on many years of work by those communities’ volunteers
through increased focused on needs of its users in critical areas. After many
years of growth under the sponsorship of organizations OEMR & OpenMRS Inc.,
key members of the two communities have joined forces to launch a successor
free & open source software community to fulfill their vision of improved
health outcomes around the world.

OpenMRS has been one of the most successful open source projects in global
health, deployed in numerous countries since 2004 with hundreds of
installations, and maintained by an international community of contributors
and experts. OpenEMR, created in 1998, has been the most widely adopted open
source commercial electronic medical record (EMR) worldwide, with about 800
downloads per week and recent adoption by large government organizations such
as the Peace Corps, Armed Forces Retirement Centers and Israel Health
Services. LibreHealth software will build on the best of both projects’
software and collaborative aspects, while extending the new community’s scope
beyond the EMR to software in several key areas of health care.

LibreHealth will be the foundation of a worldwide ecosystem of open source
Health IT innovation, and will be a place where people can come together to
build tools that enhance the quality of healthcare around the world. The
LibreHealth EHRTM (electronic health record) software product, made available
under the Mozilla Public License, will build upon the successes of the OpenMRS
medical record platform and the expertise of senior OpenEMR contributors. The
new larger community will be a home for both downstream customizations of this
software and complementary products to flourish under the maintainership of a
wide variety of individuals.

The project has been initially launched by the LibreHealth Steering Committee,
a group of senior contributors to the OpenMRS & OpenEMR projects. The purpose
of this founding group is to build a best-of-breed open source community that
will not only involve customers through active engagement, but also introduce
radical transparency that allows individual contributors to build the world’s
best health IT software in efficient and innovative ways. The steering
committee consists of key past OpenMRS & OpenEMR contributors Judy Gichoya MD,
Saptarshi Purkayastha PhD, Michael Downey, Jordan Freitas, Robert O'Connor,
Tony McCormick, and Ada Yeung. Additional members from the OpenEMR and OpenMRS
communities include Sam Bowen MD, Ken Chapple, Hannah Downey, Art Eaton, Terry
Hill, Sam Mbugua, Namrata Nehete, Nyoman Ribeka, Dawn Seymour, Rowan Seymour,
Simon Savai, Martin Were MD, and Kevin Yeh. Together, the founding group
represents over 250 years of experience with the OpenMRS & OpenEMR projects.

The community has entered into an agreement to join Software Freedom
Conservancy, a leader as a nonprofit home to free and open source software
projects with global impact. Conservancy, along with its member projects, is a
nonprofit organization organized as a United States 501(c)(3) designation, and
may receive tax-deductible contributions to the extent permitted by law.

“LibreHealth represents a bold commitment by members of the OpenMRS community
to support the next phase of growth for open source Health IT,” said Michael
Downey, the former director of community for OpenMRS since 2009 and a member
of the steering committee. “The formation of this new initiative is the best
way for the community to be ready for the future, in terms of exceptional
customer service, rapid technological innovation, and supporting the next
order of magnitude of community engagement. We are particularly pleased to
partner with Software Freedom Conservancy to introduce a level of professional
leadership and fiscal transparency previously unavailable to users of open
source Health IT.”

“Conservancy is proud to host this important initiative,” said Karen Sandler,
executive director of the organization. “The LibreHealth team is poised to
make a big difference in health IT and we're looking forward to supporting its
growth into a high-impact community.”

Tony McCormick, former president and chairman from OEMR the 501(c)(3)
governance body of OpenEMR, said, “The combination of the strengths of these
two communities will allow for the creation of an open source health ecosystem
for the world that is beyond the limits of the term EHR.”

“LibreHealth is an evolutionary step to create the next-generation of
community-driven health IT,” said Dr. Saptarshi Purkayastha, who previously
led education & training for OpenMRS and has been involved since 2007. “Based
on UN and WHO guidelines, countries are building their eHealth Strategy 2020,
where we see a dire need for a workforce that is competent to manage Health
IT. Using LibreHealth tools, we will release skill development initiatives
that will enable an open ecosystem of Health IT training.” Purkayastha is also
a member of the LibreHealth Steering Committee.

Another steering committee member Judy Gichoya MD, says, “I am excited about
the vision of LibreHealth that allows physicians like me that work in global
health settings to have the freedom to concentrate on delivering patient care,
while contributing to a greater purpose of providing the right health IT tools
to other people. Our new community will be home to the radiology work we have
worked so hard on for the last year. LibreHealth Radiology will provide the
first comprehensive open source radiology information system and reporting
framework for use in limited resource settings.” Gichoya was a major
contributor to OpenMRS from 2008 to 2016, and has been an avid evangelist of
free & open source software in health care.

Free and open source software creates durable partnerships

LibreHealth will build upon the experience gained in the OpenMRS and OpenEMR
communities to create an active, vibrant free and open source software
organization that leverages radically open transparency and global

As a collaborative community for free & open source software projects in the
Health IT world, LibreHealth offers a home for a variety of solutions. In
addition to its Toolkit™, EHR, and Radiology products, the organization is
also pleased to announce its partnership with mUzima, an exciting new
Android-based mHealth platform. Members of this vibrant project will be
joining the LibreHealth community to increase their project’s footprint and
grow their community of contributors. Additional projects can be created or
join the community through the LibreHealth Incubation Program.

“Our team is truly excited to collaborate as part of the LibreHealth family,”
said Ada Yeung, an OpenMRS contributor since 2006 and project leader for
mUzima. “We all share the same vision of improved healthcare outcomes using
open source technology, and look forward to the benefits of such an open,
welcoming community.”

LibreHealth is also actively forging partnerships with international free and
open source software organizations to help extend its reach and value to
stakeholders. “From government to the private sector, countries throughout
Asia are beginning to embrace FOSS initiatives like LibreHealth that enable
them to collaborate globally to improve their societies & quality of life. We
have long supported the work of the individuals in this community, and we are
proud to support LibreHealth in this endeavor,” said Hong Phuc Dang, lead
organizer of FOSSASIA, the continent's leading open source
organization. LibreHealth is partnering with FOSSASIA to participate in Google
Code-In, a contest through January 2017 that introduces secondary school
students to open source. More information about participating in Google
Code-In is available at the LibreHealth Forums.

Education and training a core community mission

Through the LibreHealth Education Partners Program™ (EPP) the community will
work collaboratively with universities and training institutions around the
world to increase the number of skilled informaticians who can integrate
Health IT systems to improve healthcare outcomes.

“We are committed to using LibreHealth software to help train our students on
cutting edge Health IT systems”, said Martin Were, MD, director of the Moi
University Institute of Biomedical Informatics in Kenya. “For over a decade,
our institution has been a supporter of open source software for healthcare,
and we’re extremely excited to work with LibreHealth to increase capacity
development for our students and for all of those we serve here in Kenya.”

Josette Jones, PhD, director of health informatics at Indiana University
School of Informatics and Computing, stated: “Health IT enhances human health
and well-being and delivers more efficient and safer patient care. We are
pleased to be named a LibreHealth Education Partner and look forward to using
the community’s software to train our students using cutting-edge technology.”

More information about participating in LibreHealth EPP™ will be made
available in the coming weeks.

LibreHealth software development already underway

The community is pleased to announce the upcoming availability of LibreHealth
Toolkit™ 1.12 LTS, which is fully-compatible with previous installations of
OpenMRS Platform 1.12. The “LTS” endorsement indicates long term support --
the LibreHealth community has committed to supporting this version of the
software with bug fixes & security patches for an additional 3 years. Customer
support for Toolkit™ 1.12 LTS will be available from the volunteer community
at <> through the end of 2019.

Later this quarter, a preview release of LibreHealth EHR™ will be made
available for download, providing health care facilities access to tools to
improve the quality of care without requiring extensive customizations &
programming. Existing OpenMRS & OpenEMR developers -- as well as new
contributors wishing to contribute to the project -- are encouraged to join
the LibreHealth Forums to participate. Beyond programming needs, the community
is looking for people to assist with documentation, testing, translation,
support, and marketing. People of all background & skills are welcome!

More information about LibreHealth, including details about software releases
as well as all community communication, will be available on the project’s web
site at <> and community forums at

About LibreHealth

LibreHealth is an independent self-governing free & open source software
community founded by leading members of the OpenMRS & OpenEMR projects. It
builds on a decade of dedication and hard work by contributors to those
earlier projects, and was created to expand the communities’ impact to all
types of Health IT, leveraging its values of active user engagement &
radically open transparency. Participation in the LibreHealth community is
open to all individuals who support our core values and contribute to our
activities. LibreHealth welcomes corporate and nonprofit participation through
financial donations & sponsorship of individuals to work as equals alongside
other contributors in the community. For more information, visit

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