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The Top 5 Free and Open Source EMR Software Products

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Update: This post on Free and Open Source EMR Software was updated 7/7/2016

Free and Open Source EMR Software

As a doctor you may not be able to completely avoid data entry.

Free and Open Source EMR Software

Or a disappointing EHR.

Free and Open Source EMR Software

Or complicated payment structures.

But you can at least minimize the cost of going paperless by implementing free Electronic Medical Records software.

Today we’re going to compare free EHR solutions side-by-side.

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1. Practice Fusion

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This is the gorilla in the room for free EMR products. Practice Fusion is the fourth most popular EHR vendor according to our research, with around 30,000 customers and 112,000 users. It’s the only solution in the top five with a free version.

It is pretty much the first name you’ll hear whenever someone mentions “free” and “EMR” in the same sentence.

It’s a web-based EMR that targets small and mid-sized medical practices (up to 1000 employees).

The software is completely free, and is ad-supported (meaning you will see relevant ads within the software). Billing is not included in the software but here are the billing vendors Practice Fusion integrates with.


Practice Fusion is backed with hundreds of millions in venture funding, and that money has been put to good use with the modern interface and intuitive design. Our reviewers give the platform an average rating of 4.5/5 stars, calling the software easy to use and simple to get started on. PF offers full support (though not 24/7 live support) with great “hand holding” for those new to electronic health systems and those just switching. It’s also got an array of slick pre-made templates and will integrate with tablets. Practice Fusion is certified for Meaningful Use, so you also qualify for EHR stimulus funds if you use it.

Practice Fusion doesn’t offer E/M coding or handwriting recognition. One user, Casey Burnett, Owner of Present Moment, said PF isn’t super psychotherapy friendly. Burnett reported having issues streamlining their process for keeping simple SOAP notes, calling it “nearly impossible.”

2. OpenMRS

As an open-source EMR, OpenMRS has been around for quite some time. Begun in 2004, a number of government agencies and local international healthcare nonprofits and universities like the Millennium Villages Project and the University of Virginia use it. OpenMRS is an EMR platform, rather than an EMR, meaning it “enables design of a customized medical records system with no programming knowledge.”


Because OpenMRS is a platform, rather than a developed system, it can be easily customized to meet specific needs. This makes it ideal for creating EMR systems in developing countries (where, for instance, they wouldn’t need the insurance information that a US-based practice might) and the tons of add-on modules and easily accessible API allow for even further customization.

Because OpenMRS is not a fully-formed EMR program, it does require an upfront investment of time and energy to create a customized EMR. Additionally, while programming knowledge is not required to create the EMR, in-depth medical and systems analysis knowledge is.


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iSALUS EHR is a specialty-specific cloud-based EHR and Practice Management software. It is Drummond Certified for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. And it has integrated billing capabilities. It’s got all the features you’d expect, minus handwriting recognition.


It’s got a free version with basic functionality, and then tiered pricing for more features.

Free and Open Source EMR Software

The free version ain’t bad. It’s can handle creating your claims and taking payments from patients. It’s got integrations with ePrescribing and labs. It offers document scanning and document management (up to 2 GB). And they offer two hours of one-on-one training. From looking at the video, iSALUS’s interface looks cluttered and confusing. But the one-on-one training should help with that.

4. VistA

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VistA is the most familiar and widely used EHR in the U.S., according to Wikipedia. (Yes, it has a Wikipedia entry.) Developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, it handles over eight million veterans’ medical records. Because more than 60% of all physicians trained in the U.S. rotate through the VHA on clinical electives, many physicians have experience using it.

Its source code was made public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and it’s available for download on the VA’s website. There are also a number of communities further developing VistA separate from the VA, of which OSEHRA is one of the most well known.


VistA is, literally, the largest EMR implementation on the planet. Nearly half of all U.S. hospitals with a complete inpatient/outpatient enterprise-wide implementation of an EHR are VA hospitals using VistA. It’s a battle-hardened, proven solution. And you (likely) don’t have to worry about the provider going out of business anytime soon. The system is ideal for large organizations and hospitals, and has almost daily updates rolled out to address any issues and to make improvements.

However, VistA is not a young program, so it’s not as user-friendly or easy to maintain as some of the more modern solutions out there. It also is a “megasuite” product, like Epic or Cerner, where you get all the functionality in one product, but you’re essentially stuck within that “ecosystem” for all your medical software needs.

5. FreeMED

FreeMED is an open-source, old-as-dirt EMR. Founded in 1999, it’s one of the longest-running open source EMRs out there. It boasts over 81,000 downloads and implementation in everything from small private practices to large government hospitals.


FreeMD has a long pedigree, and this, along with an active support community, contributes to stability and support.

That said, it looks like development has petered off. The last developer discussions ended in July 2012. If this product is of interest to you, make sure you have a tech-savvy person or team on hand to develop or modernize the software going forward.

I highly recommend doing a free demo of FreeMED (username: demo, password: demo). It’s an easy and fast way to check it out and you don’t need to give them any information or download anything to try it, which is cool.


And there you have it. Five free solutions to meet your EMR needs. Remember to check whether the open-source solutions are or can be easily modified to be Meaningful Use and ICD certified before investing in setting them up.

What did I miss? Are you using or aware of any other great free EMRs out there?

Looking for Electronic Medical Records software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Electronic Medical Records software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.


OpenEMR is web based application.

OpenEMR is licensed under GNU. GNU and OpenEMR software are designed for “lack extensive computer experience” types of medical facilities. Now what are theadvantages / disadvantages of using both? They are quite different, both from the design, functionality and architecture. OpenEMR is a LAMP Electronic Medical Record. GNU Health is a modular Information System.

I am doing a cooperation project on ehealth. I am now searching for the EHR which matches best with what i need. The software has to be used in a town of Nepal without internet acces. Do you know if there’s any option to modify the interface of the software ? I have tried openEMR, but it’s not what i am really looking for. Thank you

Hello Health has actually been around since 2008, and developed its revenue generating patient subscription business model as part of its mission to support independent physicians. In addition to its patient subscription program, the company has developed a number of additional tools that enable physicians to get compensated for patient care, and promote sustainability and profitability, including a Credit Card on File program. Hello Health is also now offering a freemium version of its product, which includes full access for practitioners to its electronic health record platform, but puts some limits around training. The new entry level model is ideal for customers that want to test the waters before moving their practices to the revenue-generation plans.

Really interesting one. Each of the Electronic Medical Record Software options along with their pros and cons have been wonderfully described. Thanks for sharing the information.

Hello Health looks great, but GOOD LUCK getting a response from them. Took 6 WEEKS for them to respond that they couldn’t work with us. Pathetic.

I have worked as a implementation Specialist for over 7 years with EPIC one of the larger and most expensive EHR systems out there on the market today. My request is that someone explain the difference between a EMR and EHR because some of the systems listed are different.

I am currently running a Adult Day Care Service for the Elderly who receive Medicaid Benefits. I am looking for a free EHR service to use and document patients/clients (the elderly) administration of medications and also other clinical documentation.

Hi Anonymous EHR Specialist,

You may find this helpful about the difference between EMR and EHR:

That said, often the phrases are used interchangeably, so I wouldn’t get too caught up in which is which.

I am a primary care doctor, practicing in CA. I think of all these free EMRs Practice Fusion is by far the most user friendly and advanced. I’ve been using it in my community among other doctors. As the article noted it has BIG limitations on the lab and rad interfaces. Even Quest and LabCorp are not connected for most of my peers. Not having a billing system is minus, especially after I switched from ECW, but we use an outside agency and its covered. For all lab, rad, PT, pharma and SNF interfaces we use and for online appointments we use; so is everybody else in California I think. If you use practice fusion with these other free systems (except Zocdoc is paid) – it is actually the best one out there for my purposes.

Great information PCP_care, thanks for sharing your experience.

right on regarding: PRACTICEFUSION i have been using Practicefusion for two years now Dec 4 they completey changed . I have no access to my scheduler, nor can i get accurate prescribing, because the dosage is lift out of the script. plus patients can no longer schedule their own appointments, the message they gets (So patients tell me) sound as if i am closing up the practic. it takes forever to get support, and when i do the answer is “i am sorry for the problem” in a few months …. I DO NOT HAVE A FEW MONTHS . ie looking for another software co

Thanks a lot for sharing such a great stuff. I am planning to develop a medical system for my patients. I really liked the interface of Practice Fusion and Hello Health, hope they works best as I’ll try them.

You can also add this app to your list. Digitize your health records with this free app

Point of correction, OpenEMR is 100 percent web base application.
With the following Features
1 A Special Appeal
2 OpenEMR Features
2.1 Free
2.2 ONC Certified
2.3 Patient Demographics
2.4 Patient Scheduling
2.5 Electronic Medical Records
2.6 Prescriptions
2.7 Medical Billing
2.8 Clinical Decision Rules
2.9 Patient Portal
2.10 Reports
2.11 Multilanguage Support
2.12 Security
2.13 Support
2.14 Community

Hi good reviews. What do you recommend for the UK?

I am using this app for EHR.

Hi guys, I’m currently doing my research project regarding tracking of Infant Immunization using an Open Source software. which of these listed above open source EMR software can be extended and use to the mentioned research project. thanks 🙂

Hi Jocelyn,

If you need something open source, OpenEMR or FreeMed are likely the most “out of the box” solutions. I think both should be able to track immunization records.

I am new to electronic health systems and would appreciate it if you could direct me to web sites where I can gain knowledge in this area.
Thank you so much

Hi Lila, I put together a list of great informational resources for EHR, hope this helps:

Thank you so very much

@JP : Big Thanks 🙂 will look at FreeMed and will read related articles.

[…] elaborate Excel spreadsheet. That is why many doctors are still not willing to use them, even for free. Electronic health records by themselves are just cranky databases that only archive […]

This is a new information for me, because free software for clinical records management is new for me. I have heard about these types of system, but everything was paid. I think that these free softwares cannot be used in big hospitals. But these will surely help clinics and all.

May I recommend Bahmni, a lightweight and fully open source EMR and Hospital Management system built on top of OpenMRS, OpenELIS (Lab) and Odoo (ERP). It is especially targeted towards low resource settings — and has been already deployed in multiple locations in the Indian sub-continent.

It included features around Registration, Lab, OPD, IPD, Radiology, Pharmacy, Billing, Programs, etc and uses OpenMRS data model to store patient records.

For more details visit:

(Disclosure: I am the community lead for Bahmni)

nice products .really worth reading.

PracticeMate is free and has a free billing module with free clearinghouse and certified. Part of OfficeAlly system

Of all of these, there’s a pretty huge player that’s missing. iSALUS Healthcare is a web-based FREE EHR that is amazingly comprehensive and able to be customized for a huge variety of specialties. You can learn more at

Which one is better for international use outside USA? Practice fusion is limited to USA

Hi Amr,

All the open source options will work outside the US, but they may not be optimized for your country’s medical regulatory or reporting environment, so make sure they can do what you need them to before committing.

@ Gurpreet Luthra
Interesting stuff. Can Bahmni be configured/modified to work using smart card technology and biometrics for patient identification and authentication? We are currently working on implement such an EHR system

Hi JP and all, we are looking for a free and open-source EHR system which is “Mobile friendly” so that patient-interface, doctor-interface, lab-interface, these all can be managed via “smartphones (Android)” with minimal requirement for web-based administration (may be limited to lab-interface). This is needed for community deprived of access to personal computers/ laptops. Which of these listed products (or the new ones which have come after this article) most suit the mobile friendliness. Thanks in advance.

Hello JP,

Quick question, I want to sale and support an EMR solution to some of small doctors an clinic of my hometown country. What product would you recommend? It needs to be modifiable and cloud friendly. Many doctors don’t have the time to learn and install this type of software and I can take advantage of that. What do you think? please let me know.

Kareo is definitely not a free EHR. The charge is $300 for a physician. This data is directly from the salesman that contacted me on 6/23/16

Hi Michael,

It looks like Kareo has changed their pricing model since this post first went live. They’ll be removed in our next update. Thanks for the catch!

Used OpenEMR various times and I am completely happy with it.

I have recently begun working with a large multi-specialty practice in Grand Cayman that is transitioning to OpenEMR and would appreciate any feedback that you may have as it relates to using this system in a very large multi-specialty practice (19 physicians, 13 specialties) who all see patients in the office as well as the hospital setting. I have never used a “free” service and fear that there will be nightmares on the practice management/revenue cycle side and difficulties with support? I would also love links to good training resources whether videos, manuals, etc. anything would be very much appreciated. Kind Regards

We are service providers of ERPNext and are working on building apps for the Medical sector. All our works are open source. Visit to know more about the features. You may choose smarteCare for your practice management, clinics, or hospitals.

One big point that is missing is the fact that all these EMR systems are developed by software engineers which have never spent 1 day in clinical practice. How about a physician designed and developed EHR that is also available free with basic features and upgrades are available? is worth a look!

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