Growing the Community

A recent discussion on the OpenClinica users mailing list centered around making OpenClinica more optimal for small, low-budget academic research studies, and how open source community participation is helping OpenClinica to meet those users’ needs.

Regarding OpenClinica’s target audience: OpenClinica is used in a tremendous variety of studies and organizations. Many of these are paying customers of OpenClinica LLC (f/k/a Akaza Research) who are running large GCP compliant, multi-site clinical trials. Clearly we as a company have an obligation and incentive to support them and provide software that fits their needs.

But I also am committed to making OpenClinica (the technology) successful and widely used. We want OpenClinica to power as many studies as possible, both small and large. If you’re determined to scratch down some data into Excel I won’t stop you. But since you’re reading this you likely know the arguments against doing so, and want a more robust solution for capturing and managing your clinical research data. We want lots of OpenClinica researchers, entrepreneurs and service providers to thrive in a growing ecosystem. If you are a researcher with no budget and you need OpenClinica to do X, me and my staff are ready and willing to prioritize getting feature X into a release if we have meaningful participation from community members to get that feature designed, coded, documented, tested, etc. Every participant in the OpenClinica community has the ability to make those contributions and/or to mobilize community participation to get their feature defined and developed. It’s not benevolence or volunteer work – with open source software the benefit you get out is proportional to the investment you put in.

There are growing examples of this participation. But more is needed to truly realize OpenClinica’s potential. As a community, we need to ask: (1) How do we grow participation? (2) How do we make it easier to participate? and (3) What can you contribute?

3 thoughts on “Growing the Community

  1. Growing the community is really what we did last fall. Last year the pharmacy market in Sweden was privatized.

    A just to be started private pharmacy in Uppsala, Sweden, contacted me and asked if I could build an EMR system for them using Excel or MS ACCESS. They needed an EMR system for their allergy testing and vaccination sections. Trying to acquire one commercially was out of the question for financial reasons. I told them that we could do better than that and cheaper, MS ACCESS doesn’t come without a cost and since there would be several simultaneous users ACCESS would not be an ideal solution.

    We (one of their nurses and I) went ahead and created an EMR system for them that would cover both their vaccine business as the allergy testing. It turned out that OpenClinica®, even in version 3.0 had all the features that they needed and after a couple of weeks we launched their system on a HP Proliant Microserver with Windows 2008 R2 operating system. Once a month the system generates a file for the health insurance system so they can refund the pharmacy.

    The total cost for this system was less than 1 500 USD’s including the HP server and the Windows 2008 R2 licence. Buying a commercial system would have cost at least 50 000 USD’s in addition to the annual license fees. Now they have an EMR-system that supports 5 users with expansion capacity to add more modules for other activities such as Weight Watchers, a Foot Clinic, a Diet Clinic and so on. The owner of the pharmacy is very happy and the users as well.

    I’m sure that we will find many areas in the rapidly expanding areas around heath care and healthy living where OpenClinica® can be deployed.

  2. Hi Krister,
    Sounds like a really innovative application of OpenClinica. I’d love to hear more. Perhaps you’d be willing to expand this into a full fledged blog post? If so let me know.
    – Cal

  3. Volunteer work not only is good for the community but it also makes you just feel better about yourself and overall happier. GO OUT AND SERVE!!!

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