OpenHIE Community Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

In November 2019, we attended the annual OpenHIE Community Meeting hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was an excellent opportunity for global community members to discuss OpenHIE architecture, the myriad supporting technologies and the projects that are taking place in member countries.


The OpenHIE architecture specifies and describes many components that help data exchange between systems. Including things like the Facility Registry, Health Care Worker Registry or Master Patient Index. What every OpenHIE implementation needs, however, is an interoperability layer. This allows the different parts of the systems to interact while also giving insight into the entire system.


The OpenHIM, our product, is a reference technology in this architecture. Demoing our product and getting feedback was an essential benefit of the conference.


From left, Ryan Crichton, Daniel Futerman, Matthew Dickie, and Peter Imrie made up our team in attendance with Daniel also attending the openIMIS Developers Community Meeting that ran in parallel.


Day One

Focused on the Architecture and Community Leads meeting and a full day of workshops.


Day Two Started with the unconference format, with attendees deciding on the content for Day Two. We facilitated a few sessions during the conference:

  • The role of FHIR, the IOL and SHR components in OpenHIE

  • Demos and presentations on the OpenHIM

  • The Instant OpenHIE project

Matt presented an exciting proof of concept, the OpenHIM Mapping mediator, which allows users to define custom message translations and validations. From any JSON/XML message type into any other JSON/XML object structure.


On the final day we ran the Hackonnect-a-thon. Supporting the groups working on their interoperability challenges. Creating an opportunity for delegates to build their own proof of concept solution with help from experts in the field. We provided assistance with OpenHIM and mediator development tutorials.


Happening in parallel; the openIMIS meeting focused on recent developments, technical deep dives and roadmap planning. We participated in sessions on the role of openIMIS and health financing in the OpenHIE landscape.

We all felt it was a fantastic opportunity to learn from the community seeing the different use cases and potential pitfalls to watch out for. In the process getting a much better understanding of the various initiatives and their approaches to OpenHIE.

We learned just how integral Jembi's Open Source core products are for many low-income countries and the community as a whole. It was amazing to hear how our tools are being used and in ways that we weren't even aware of. And then the broad installation base of OpenHIM surprised us, with instances in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and even Haiti.

Finally, we also learned that following Google Maps' quickest walking route is a bit dubious. Blind faith in technology can lead to very lost tourists wandering around unexpected construction sites. Definitely an unexpected experience!

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