2007 Linux Medical News Freedom Award Nominees

This years class of nominees for the 2007 Linux Medical Freedom Award are a prestigious group indeed. The panel of judges has a difficult task ahead of it. The nominees are as follows:

. Herman Tolentino, MD Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS)
. Web Reach, Inc. Mirth Project.
. Gerry Douglas, MD Malawi RHIO.
. Paul G. Biondich, MD, MS Regenstreif Institute for OpenMRS project.
. WorldVistA for WorldVistA EHR CCHIT Certification.

The award will be given November 13th, 2007 at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Fall Conference in Chicago. This is not an official AMIA award. Complete text of the nomination is within.

Nominee: Herman Tolentino, MD and
The Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS)

Dr. Herman Tolentino graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (Class of 1985). He completed his Anesthesiology residency at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in 1990. He became faculty member of the Department of Anesthesiology and later the Medical Informatics Unit in the same university. During this time, he headed the hospital information systems department of PGH and led the development and implementation of several information systems. In 1997 he pursued a post-doctoral fellowship in medical informatics at the University of Washington. After this, he took on several roles in information and communications technology in both the private and public sector, honing his skills in managing large-scale information systems integration projects.

As an adviser for the World Health Organization in Manila, he conceptualized and led a public health project for integrating disease surveillance systems from six Asian countries. He has represented the country and the region in various international informatics conferences (American Medical Informatics Association conferences, European Federation for Medical Informatics) and in ICT competitions (Asia-Pacific ICT Competition – education category / distance learning, Stockholm Challenge – health).

In 2003, Dr. Tolentino conceptualized the Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS), an innovative, low-cost computerization project for the village health center, and developed it in close consultation with village health workers to identify their needs.

Before CHITS, the village health center kept paper records of patient consultations. These then became the basis for data included in municipal reports. Aside from this, each vertical health program from the national government had its own set of forms to be filled out, multiplying the work of the village health worker. Paper records were also prone to destruction and loss, difficult to consolidate, and were easily altered.

The solution was CHITS, an open-source application for the village health center combining the features of an electronic health record and clinic appointment system while integrating modules for different national health programs.

CHITS is an extensible, modular system that leverages existing routine health information systems in public health to serve as a starting point for implementing comprehensive information system integration. Through CHITS, community-based health information is made available not only to public health agencies requiring community level information but also to the community itself that generates the information, enabling the community to use this for local decision-making.

Currently, CHITS is in use in eleven health centers in two cities and two provinces in the Philippines, with more provinces calling for its deployment. It has made the work of village health workers easier. Data is entered only once during a patient consultation to generate the different forms that need to be submitted. Since data is stored electronically, it is now easier to access and consolidate, making it available for community leaders as a decision making tool. It is also now less prone to destruction and loss.

Because of their contribution towards increasing accessibility and protecting the integrity of health information, this institution nominates Dr. Herman Tolentino and CHITS for the 2007 Linux Medical News Freedom Award.


I am nominating Web Reach, Inc. for this year’s award based on their leadership in producing Mirth (the HL7 integration engine) and for their commitment to create a community to further develop GELLO (guideline expression language). Each of these projects are key pieces to reducing the cost and enhancing the value of clinical information storage and exchange.


Gerry Douglas, MD

Malawi has a population of 12 million people. 1 million of these people
have HIV and there are just 150 doctors in the country. Gerry Douglas
has a vision for using technology to bridge this gap.

For the past 10 years Gerry Douglas has been applying technology to the
needs of Malawi. A trail of laptops, pdas, antennas, batteries, tablet
pcs, drills, gps devices, cars, windmills, communication towers, fiber
optic cable, barcode scanners, solar panels and sweat – a lot of sweat
mark his path. Gerry has also cashed in all of his retirement savings to
keep this Baobab going.

Baobab’s current technology stack consists of touchscreen computers
running a custom OS – Baobab Linux – which is optimized for the 32MB of
RAM and 16MB of disk space that the ‘made in Malawi’ hardware offers.
The application (including patient registration, HIV ART protocol with
decision support, and full prescribing and dispensing) is delivered via
a Ruby on Rails server. The user interface is created using the home
built and open source touchscreen toolkit which uses javascript to
convert HTML into a full screen finger friendly and totally intuitive tool.

Gerry Douglas has a huge vision for using open source technology to
solve the problems of health care in Malawi. He works too hard for no
money and no recognition and never boasts. I think he deserves the kind
of recognition this award offers.



I nominate

Paul G. Biondich, MD, MS
Investigator, Regenstrief Institute, Inc.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics / Informatics
Riley Hosptial for Children / IU School of Medicine

For the OpenMRS project


The WorldVistA Organization

WorldVistA EHR CCHIT Certification

The WorldVistA organization “was formed to extend and collaboratively improve the VistA electronic health record and health information system for use outside of its original setting. The system was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for use in its veterans hospitals, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes.” WorldVistA undertook and was successful in getting WorldVistA EHR/VOE 1.0 CCHIT certified in May of 2007. WorldVistA EHR/VOE 1.0 is now the only CCHIT Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Electronic Health Record in existence. WorldVistA has single handedly kept the FOSS community ‘in the game’ since now CCHIT certification has become a prerequisite for EHR adoption.

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