It was difficult and easy at the same time to chose an open-source project I want to contribute to. I received medical education and wanted to continue working in this area but now as an IT specialist. So when I thought that LibreHealth Toolkit was in the Outreachy list of projects for application, I read more about what they were doing and decided that it would be a perfect match for me.
LibreHealth has its website with the section dedicated to the Toolkit. LibreHealth projects aim at improving and simplifying medical record systems in healthcare facilities and creating traceable medical records that are easy to use. It is open-source so everyone interested in the project can contribute. I think that it is great to be among people who create something you use at work, to be able to discuss how features are implemented and propose something new. I especially liked one of the taglines of LibreHealth that states “LibreHealth is driven by real needs of patients and last-mile clinicians who want to improve health and health service delivery”. I understood that I want to be a part of it.
I live in Ukraine and the medical system here is far from perfect. Many hospitals lack equipment, especially those in smaller towns and villages. Such record systems as developed by the LibreHealth team could make processes easier but it’s long till it can be implemented here. However, I hope that at least some hospitals in my country could also use modern record systems instead of old-fashioned piles of paper journals.
So what exactly is LibreHealth Toolkit?
It is an API (set of calls that allow users to interact with your code) for a set of healthcare record systems. The project is developed by the community interested in using and enhancing it. You can build applications based on the toolkit that will function according to your needs. The idea of the project is that it is universal and can be used in any kind of medical facility: from large clinics to small hospitals in remote locations. One of the advantages is that Toolkit can run on the most popular operating systems and platforms. It means that you don’t have to switch for example from Windows to Linux or OSX and can continue using the platform you are used. What I find one of the most attractive things is that Toolkit supports many popular languages so people who are not native English speakers can use it in their language.
LibreHealth project is hosted on GitLab. You can submit an issue or start a discussion if you want to take part in its development. There is also an option to donate money to the project available on the main website.
To sum up, there are several things I liked most about working with the LibreHealth community:
- it is open to new people and friendly
- you get encouragement for every effort
- you feel that you are doing something valuable for society.