Why Buy Open Source (Free) EMR Software

Posted on December 15, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yes, I completely understand the irony of the title. That’s the beauty that is open source software. I’ve often talked about my fandom for open source software and it seems that open source EMR software is finally gaining some significant momentum.

As I was looking over the Open EMR website I stumbled upon a page created by the Open Source Medical Softare organization about the advantages of OpenEMR (an open source EMR package). I found the list interesting and so here’s my modified version of their list of OpenEMR advantages that should apply to any well done open source EMR:
Corporate buy-outs – I’m sure that Misys EMR users will appreciate this one. It’s never fun when your EMR software is bought out by someone else.
Bankruptcy – This is similar to a buy-out often, but sometimes can go even worse with prolonged periods with little support from your EMR vendor.
Vendor lock-in – Definitely isn’t in your EMR vendor’s best interest to make your data portable to another EMR system.
Sunsetting – If you’ve ever gone through this it’s time consuming and seems to provide little benefit (at least initially).
Duplication of engineering costs – Many people argue that EMR software should just adopt open APIs (which is a great thing), but it does meant that there’s often duplication of engineering costs.
Meta-applications built on substrate without asking permission: simulators, bio-surveillance, yet-to-be-conceived apps
No one vendor with enough engineering resources – I’m not sure open source EMR movements have beat out the engineering resources of a major EMR vendor, but it seems like it’s getting close to that point.
Corporate agenda not in harmony with customer needs – Could this really be?

I’m sure there are other reasons too. Although, it is interesting to consider some of the ways open source EMR software is able to solve some of the major pain points people feel when working with an EMR vendor.