Wednesday, December 30, 2015

OpenMRS Worldwide Summit 2015 Event Report

I was privileged to attend the OpenMRS Worldwide Summit 2015, held in Singapore on 8-14 December 2015. I was one of the lucky recipients of a travel grant, which made it possible for me to attend. Without the travel grant, I would not have been able to participate. I want to express a special thanks to all of the sponsors of OpenMRS Worldwide Summit 2015, especially those that enabled me to participate through the travel grant!

During the summit, I was able to attend various talks, participate in many activities, meet new people, and be encouraged to continue and deepen my involvement with OpenMRS.

Talks I Attended
I arrived a few days before the summit so I could participate in the OpenMRS Concept Management tutorial led by community experts Andrew Kanter and Ellen Ball. Although this was a subject that I was quite familiar with, I was able to capture some history, learn about the latest tools (Open Concept Lab) and leave with some new best-practices to implement. I was not planning to attend the Getting Data Out tutorial, but was requested to demonstrating some tools that I was familiar with by the reporting community expert, Mike Seaton. So, as is so common in the OpenMRS community I shared the limited knowledge that I had on the subject, edifying others.

During the summit there were scheduled group plenary sessions, unscheduled “unconference” sessions, as well as “birds of a feather” sessions.

My favorite plenary session was certainly the “Lightening Talks”; where multiple people each talked for a short amount of time (about 5-minutes) on any subject. This gave a good introduction to people and what they were doing in the OpenMRS community. In future events, I would like to have organizational lightening talks, where each organization or person represented would give a brief overview of their work. Another favorite plenary session was the “fish-bowl” where we talked about Growing the OpenMRS Community. In this session, there was a rotating panel of “experts” who sat on stage and gave their thoughts on the subject. The time was divided in half, the first part spent identifying problems (like making it easier for “newbies” and the need for improving documentation), and the second part identifying potential solutions.

One of the unconference sessions that I attended was Installing and Configuring Bhamni. Bhamni is now an official distribution of OpenMRS; integrating OpenMRS (Electronic Medical Record), OpenELIS (Lab Information System) and OpenERP (Enterprise Management). In this session each participate was given a Bhamni instance running on a virtual machine. Bhamni has a great deal of configurability built-in through JSON files which can be edited in the filesystem. We were given various tasks to perform in configuring Bhamni, for example adding a new app button on the home page.

My favorite “birds of a feather” session was held in the cafeteria where we informally discussed OpenELIS over lunch. This was a joint discussion between I-TECH and Bhamni (ThoughtWorks) who had forked the OpenELIS software. We discussed how to combine the work (and the work of others) into an even better software.

Activities I Participated In
There were many extracurricular activities which I participated in, for example the Pre-Summit BBQ Dinner at beautiful Labrador Park, sponsored by Google. The most fun activity was PowerPoint Karaoke, where I participated as a contestant. Laughs were had by all (except a few who were still suffering from jetlag and took a nap). This event was graciously hosted by ThoughtWorks in their Singapore office. They gave us snacks too!

PowerPoint Karaoke - Thanks to Kaweesi Joseph For Photo 
New People I Met
Having attended previous OpenMRS Implementer’s Meetings, many of the folks I encountered were old friends. I did meet a new friend in person, Mayank Sharma. He was a previous Google Summer of Code student, and is now the Release Manager for OpenMRS Platform 2.0. I have seen his name in the forums, but never met in person. He is a really cool member of the OpenMRS community. First, he shared about FHIR during his lightening talk, which introduced a new technology to me. Second, he humbly sat me down and asked me for comments about things he should consider during the release of OpenMRS 2.0. Third, he took us on a great visit to “Little India”, ending with dinner at the Banana Leaf Restaurant.

Another really cool person I met was Neha Goel. Not only is she a champion “new implementer” of OpenMRS, but she was also our PowerPoint Karaoke champion, unseating the former champion and taking home the Kaweesi Joseph PowerPoint Karaoke Trophy. One afternoon I got to show her some tricks of configuring OpenMRS. I love preying on unsuspecting new implementers with my vast experience and limited knowledge.

How This Event Changed or Encouraged My Involvement in OpenMRS
I love the OpenMRS community! It feels good to have an open invitation to participate in leading the community forward. Being able to attend encourages my continued involvement. Being asked straight-up, “What do you want to do in the OpenMRS community?” strengthens that connection even more.

I also participated in the OpenMRS Hackathon that was held after the summit. My contribution was somewhat unconventional as I am not one of OpenMRS’ skilled programmers. But, I was able to use my videography skills to record various interviews (and b-roll) of the folks at the hackathon which will be used to produce a promotional video. One of the questions I asked the interviewees was “What is the best part about OpenMRS?” The majority responded “The Community”. I completely agree! OpenMRS is not software. OpenMRS is a community of people from all over the world working together to write code and save lives! I am proud to be a part of this community; a little piece that makes up the whole.

Here is a “shout-out” to anyone that is interested in being a part of the OpenMRS community… “Come find your place”!

1 comment:

  1. Hello James,
    Hope all is well.

    Thank you for sharing this great post on this year's OpenMRS Worldwide Summit. It was very informative and I plan to learn more about the references that you shared.

    I look forward to someday attending the OpenMRS Summit.

    Have a blessed New Year.

    -Emanus Simeon