Open Source Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

Over 50 Open Source Medical Records software products provide choices and options for medical professionals and organizations with limited budgets.

These products require development, customization and a steep learning curve. But, commercial products cost as much as $120K USD per physician.

However, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC Health IT) Certification Programonly certified only four of these electronic records systems.

Certified Open Source EMRs include:

Other EMR Software systems include:

Advantages and Challenges

Free Open Source Electronic Medical Records software offer advantages in countries where funding challenges plague the medical world.

However, free Open Source Electronic Medical Records software fail to gain market share in the US because…

  • Many developers lack the medical experience required to make “Out of the Box” software easy to navigate and meet medical needs. (Some develpers make money customizing their product)
  • Free systems offer little financial incentive for marketing, and limited payback to fund marketing efforts
  • The time and effort required to customize free systems takes away from the practice of medicine
  • Ongoing support services remain unavailable. (Medical professionals must provide their own technical support)
  • Health care organizations lack the IT staff with training to customize, maintain and update these systems
  • The software offers weak security and patients’ privacy
  • Costs for maintenance and ongoing support may approach costs of commercial systems

EMR Software Development

Software development requires a team of talented IT professionals. These include:

  • Project Manager
  • Core Developers
  • Contributing Developers
  • Bug Fixers
  • Beta Users – Bug Reporters
  • Documentation Writers
  • Committed End Users

In addition…

  • These Free also require licensing. )Licensing requirements differ, with some requiring that code updates be submitted to the Development Communitity under the same license. (License restrictions tend to control who contributes to the project)
  • These systems require knowledge of one or more specific programming languages. (Developers of some systems use more than one programming language)

Take-away: Open Source Electronic Patients’ Records systems’ promise of free and cheap services for medical patients lags with expensive implementation and maintenance.