FAQ List

This is a collection of the most frequently asked questions regarding the openIMIS software as well as the global initiative. (click here for more FAQ entries and other knowledge base articles)

(list ordered by creation date)

FAQ - What is openIMIS?

Featured FAQ List

This is a collection of the most frequently asked questions regarding the openIMIS software as well as the global initiative. (click here for more FAQ entries and other knowledge base articles)

FAQ - What is openIMIS?

FAQ - Is the software modifiable/ adaptable?

Yes. The license for openIMIS allows for free modification and adaptation to the software. To ease the modifications process, full technical documentation is provided along with the source code.

FAQ - How can the software be used?

The general use-case is a health financing scheme operator such as a regional/national health funds manager or Ministry of Health implementing openIMIS to manage a provider payment mechanism. This includes enrolling beneficiaries, collecting contributions, verifying membership, and the management and processing of claims - all digitally. However, the use of the software is not limited to these general use-cases! Feel free to explore the software and try out new implementation scenarios:

FAQ - Who can use the software?

The software is free to download and use to anyone. The general use-case is a health financing scheme operator such as a regional/national health funds manager or Ministry of Health implementing openIMIS to manage a provider payment mechanism. Other potential use-cases might be in universities with a health financing curriculum that need a learning environment to provide practical experiences to their students. Companies or individuals with expertise in digital health implementation could also look into providing services as an openIMIS implementation consultant.

FAQ - Can the software be re-sold?

Yes - you can package and re-distribute the software according to the license agreement.

GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL-3) explicitly allows to convey verbatim copies the software commercially:

You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee. (AGPL-3, §5)

However, you should be aware of the other statements in the license agreement, especially when distributing modified source versions. AGPL-3 has an in-build copy-left clause. This means that you need to distribute your version under the same license. Also, you are expected to feed back modifications of your distribution to the openIMIS project, even if you offer openIMIS as a Software as a Service (SaaS) on using your own server.

Of course we would appreciate being in touch with you when you plan to redistribute the software. This will be of benefit to you and the openIMIS community.

FAQ - Where is my data collected?

As you implement openIMIS, you will need to install and host the software on either a virtual or physical server. This server(s) is where your data will be stored. You have full control over who has access to the data.

FAQ - Is my data safe?

Yes. We take care to ensure that the openIMIS software is free of security-related issues and that all required measures to ensure the safety of data are in place. However, there is an added layer of security that you are responsible for during implementation. As you implement openIMIS, you will need to install and host the software on either a virtual or physical server. You should ensure that the server you choose to host openIMIS on has the required security measures in place.

In terms of access to data, the openIMIS initiative will never have access to any data from your implementation of openIMIS.

(read more on securing your installation …)

FAQ - What are the additional costs to consider when using openIMIS?

Some examples of additional costs to consider when using openIMIS is given below. The extent of these additional costs will very much depend on the size and scale of the implementation. Examples of cost drivers are:

(read more here …)

FAQ - Is openIMIS free?

The openIMIS software, including the source code, is free. It can be freely downloaded without restrictions. When implementing openIMIS, you will incur costs for deploying the software (eg. server costs), and for required hardware at health facilities and the scheme operator. In addition, there will be costs for implementation and roll-out of the software(e.g. user training) and regular maintenance of the installation.

FAQ - What do I need to become an openIMIS user?

There are no pre-defined requirements to use openIMIS. Please feel free to move around this wiki and learn about the software and the community, or try out the software functionalities from the demo, or join the weekly calls of the implementers' committee. If you are a developer and you want to start looking into the code and find ways in which you can build on the existing functionality, please visit the GitHub repository and join the developers' committee

FAQ - What is open-source software?

Wikipedia defines open-source software as "a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose." In openIMIS's case, the copyright holder is the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and they allow anyone  to redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU AGPL v3 License.

In addition to the license agreement and the ability to modify and redistribute it freely, open-source software is a collaborative effort among a community of users, implementers, and software developers. These communities share their experiences, discuss new features and functionalities for the software, and ultimately provide direction to the future development of the software. You can find more information about the openIMIS community here.

FAQ - How much does it cost to implement openIMIS

First things first: openIMIS as open-source software is completely free of charge. You can simply download and use it. There are no license costs attached to it, no matter what the use case is. However, there will be costs arising for the implementation of openIMIS in your organization, depending on a variety of factors. Not all of them are mandatory, they will all depend a lot on the specifics of your organization and use-case.

FAQ - When was openIMIS created?

With support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) in 2012, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Microinsurance Academy and Exact Software developed an Insurance Management Information System (IMIS) to operate community health funds (CHF) in several districts of Tanzania.

In 2014, a mutual health insurance scheme in Cameroon adapted the software for their business processes. Since 2015, the German Development Cooperation (GDC) has been providing assistance to customize IMIS for Nepal’s national health insurance scheme. The software has grown organically and has demonstrated potential for easy adaptation to different types of health financing mechanisms needed for UHC.

In 2016, GDC and SDC invested jointly to make IMIS an open-source software. The openIMIS source code has been publicly available since 2018.