openIMIS seeks to provide a comprehensive system linking patient, provider and payer data. Because it is open source, anyone can copy, modify and distribute the source code, which will be managed and continuously improved by the open source software community.
The management information system will have a modular and interoperable structure. This allows it to be adapted to the needs of a variety of low- and middle-income countries on their path to universal health coverage, or UHC. The initiative also seeks to create a community of practice for software developers and users and to provide capacity-building services.
The Insurance Management Information System (IMIS) was designed by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in the context of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)’s Health Promotion and Systems Strengthening Project in Tanzania. IMIS constitutes an IT solution suitable for the effective management of different types of health insurance and potentially other approaches to health financing in low- and middle-income countries moving towards UHC.
IMIS was first implemented in 2012, as the IT backbone for the Government of Tanzania’s Community Health Fund (CHF). The system was then adopted for a mutual health insurance scheme in Cameroon with support from MISEREOR, and for operating Nepal’s national health insurance scheme, with support from the German Development Cooperation.
First steps of evolution
A comprehensive healthcare system
Healthcare is fundamental for physical and mental health and more countries are expanding health coverage in their search for equity, efficiency and sustainability.
Existing health financing and healthcare provisions are gradually being integrated into comprehensive systems designed to overcome fragmentation.
A modern health system requires an all-encompassing approach to data management, without which a health system cannot be managed.
Financial capacity for implementation
Despite diverse country contexts, the basic structures and business processes of health systems offer enough similarities to allow a common approach to data management and facilitation. ICT solutions have been developed to support the processes of different countries’ health systems.
These solutions have on occasion been applied narrowly within regional boundaries or have addressed selected processes within a broader health system. To gradually expand health coverage and financial protection, many low- and middle-income countries are developing adapted health insurance schemes.
Launching larger schemes with national outreach or expanding smaller ones require reliable and cost-effective ICT health insurance information management systems. However, most of these countries lack the financial and technical capacity to cope with complex ICT structures.