Gwen Williams Prize 2012–2013 Recipient

Computer Science Study Abroad Partnership and Community Based Learning

Richard Fry, Computer Science

Over several years, the Hemingway Excellence Awards have been used to successfully launch a long-term computer science study aboard partnership and community based learning initiative that is helping to build an “open source” electronic medical records (EMR) system to assist millions of underserved people around the world. 

The focus of developing such a large system is not only for WSU students to gain first-hand experience working on a long-term software engineering project, but to also spotlight Weber State’s position in the global community. 

WSU Computer Science faculty believe a generic EMR model that is scalable and adaptable to the unique demands of developing nations with limited resources is not only an optimal solution for Ghana, West Africa (where the system is being prototyped in a 1,700 bed teaching hospital) but could eventually be expanded to other nations. In less than two years, Dr. Fry has completed the foundational work, and more than two dozen WSU Computer Science students have traveled to Ghana to deliver and train on the first phases of the software project. 

During the pilot study, more than 4,000 patient records were entered and transitioned into the new computerized system in less than a year. 

The Weber State University efforts in Ghana have also been instrumental in assisting the hospital in hiring 15 new information technology (IT) staff members to support this initiative and allow the Ghanaians to maintain and enhance their own EMR software in the future.