HHIMS is open-source medical record software developed for use in Sri Lankan hospitals. It stores the patient's clinical details during out-patient visits, clinic consultations or when admitted to the wards and is designed to replace paper records. Medical details can be entered directly into the database as the patient is examined or shortly afterwards. Lab-tests, prescriptions and treatments can be ordered through the computer network and carried out without the need for paper records. One single screen can display an overview of all the patient's clinical details when they return for a further visit or when they are admitted.

Although HHIMS encourages paperless clinical records, it can print a hospital ID card, a visit slip or a discharge letter for patients, it can produce quarterly health statistics and it can prepare notifications of infectious disease for transmission to the local Medical Officers of Health by e-mail. In this way, the software significantly reduces the need for maintaining paper-based records and enables an improved and efficient service to the patient.

HHIMS also offers advantages to high level decision-makers in health care administration by early detection and control of emerging disease patterns and better monitoring of progress towards health goals. It can promote equity in health care by providing citizens with access to their clinical record and drive improvements in quality of service by supplying accurate public health information. From the point of view of the policy maker it can provide evidence for formulating and evaluating health policies. Access to a wide range of clinical details in digital form will facilitate research and improve the efficient use of resources. From a clinical perspective, improved and rapidly available medical records will improve the quality of health care for individual patients and from a medical administrative viewpoint, better monitoring of clinical effectiveness and the hospital's use of resources.

The software is licensed under the open-source AGPL license and is freely available for use, distribution or modification by anybody. For those unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “free” in this form of license, there is a good explanation of what it means from the Free Software Foundation at http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html. “Open-source” means that the programming code of the basic software is publicly available even though it may be embedded within proprietary products sold by private companies.

HHIMS was based on software (MDS) initially produced by the WHO Country Office for Sri Lanka in 2005 and further developed in a project carried out by the Austrian/Swiss Red Cross from 2006-2009. The open-source version (HHIMS version 1) was programmed for the Regional Director of Health Services, Kegalle, by staff of NetCom Technologies in 2010. The main cost of this development was provided as a grant by the World Bank, channeled through the Information and Communication Technology Agency of the Sri Lankan Government (ICTA).

Following the success of version 1, a number of additional functions were added, resulting in the development of HHIMS version 2 at the end of 2013. Major programming changes were also introduced to the computer code used in this version to ensure interoperability and ease of program maintenance. It is currently undergoing beta testing in several hospitals in Sri Lanka. It is planned to release a stable version (v2.1) in November 2014. At least two forked versions of HHIMS have also been produced.

   HHIMS v2 Timeline (click on image to view large)