Standardizing a developing country health information system through proprietary software: Ghana’s experience



This study aims to understand a developing country’s experience with health information system (HIS) based on standard proprietary software compared with that based on free and open source software (FOSS) as documented in the literature. The developing country HIS literature has focused more on experiences with manual systems or FOSS. Less is therefore known about the development and use of HIS based on standard proprietary software. Using qualitative, interpretive case study methodology, this study investigates Ghana’s experience with the development and use of proprietary software to standardize HIS across the national, regional, district and hospital levels. The paper highlights the inflexible nature of the standardized proprietary approach to HIS under top-down development in developing countries and the resultant challenges and recommends FOSS based on bottom-up participatory development as a better alternative.


Health information systems; proprietary software; free and open source software; standardization; developing country; Ghana.

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