Interoperability between Zcore and OpenMRS

Throughout the world, RTI’s Center for Information and Communication Technology (CICT) implements data collection projects in which patients are tracked or epidemics are measured. In the past these projects have used licensed or proprietary tools such as MS Access and Blast to collect and send data to a central data unit for analysis. Recently the CICT team embarked upon a new data collection project that will involve the recording of data collected on paper forms, transcribing this data onto a pc at the remote site, and sending the data to a central data management system for analysis. The team decided not to use the previous Access-based software, which required custom programming and had expensive licenses; instead, they decided upon an open source solution, part of which were developed in-house and another part that is a large, community-based project.


Since 2003, RTI has been working on a project in Zambia called ZEPRS that uses an open source platform of Apache Tomcat and MySQL database for point-of-care data entry. ZEPRS became the foundation for software which CICT has used on subsequent projects in Kenya and South Africa. This software is called Zcore. Similar to ZEPRS, Zcore is a point-of-care solution – the software is designed so that data entry may be easily entered by field staff, nurses, or clinicians. Over the years Zcore has evolved into an easy-to-install standalone application that uses an embedded database (Apache Derby) to store information and generates forms to a web browser using Apache Tomcat. The CICT team will use the Zcore standalone for data capture at the remote locations.

OpenMRS Integration

Analysis and reports at the central data coordination unit may be handled by OpenMRS. OpenMRS is a “community-developed, open-source, enterprise electronic medical record system framework” that shares common features with Zcore. It uses Apache Tomcat and MySQL database and has similarities in its design approach to Zcore. Although OpenMRS provides a data entry client that uses Microsoft Infopath, the CICT team will use Zcore as the data entry client. The Zcore client is very easy to install and enables data entry using its embedded web browser.

Advantages of Interoperability between Zcore and OpenMRS

  • A free, open source alternative to Infopath client for OpenMRS forms
  • Access to the addtional reporting capabilities of OpenMRS
  • HL7 compliance for integration with other health information system components
  • Access to OpenMRS modules that provide added functionality at a Data Center, such as the ability to search for and clean duplicate records, ability to compare double data entry lists of data, ability to insert medical images, ability to view data entry statistics, ability to generate unique IDs with bar codes, and more.

Current Status

The Zcore team has already updated the code in Zcore to demonstrate this integration. An administrator may create a schema in OpenMRS, import it into Zcore, perform data entry, export the data, and import the data into OpenMRS. The next step is to create a module for OpenMRS that will be used for data center management to manage data transferred from remote sites. Each site will push its archives to the OpenMRS data center instance. The new module will accept the uploaded archive and import the records into OpenMRS. This module will use code from a current OpenMRS project called “Remote Form Entry” as its foundation, adding a sortable list of sites, associated archive filenames, and date uploaded.

OpenMRS-Zcore integration diagram


More Information


Software Downloads

Downloads are on the Zcore Software downloads page, Zcore generic release section.


OpenMRS Integration Handbook: Web and 926.01 KB PDF


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