Managing charts and records manually for a handful of patients can be easy, but if your healthcare practice deals with hundreds of patients, things can get out of hand quickly. You’ll have hours of data entry to complete as well as piles of paper charts occupying your shelves. You may also have to deal with errors related to incorrect transcription or misinterpreted handwriting.
The best way to avoid these issues is to use electronic medical records (EMR) software. The tool digitizes patients’ healthcare records and stores them in a centralized location that can be accessed only by authorized healthcare professionals. It also helps create dedicated patient folders to organize files and documents, helping save the time you’d otherwise spend on searching through hundreds of paper charts.
If you’re new to EMR software or don’t have the budget to invest in an expensive tool, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we list (alphabetically) the three best free and open source EMR software solutions based on SERP rankings. Read the full product selection methodology here.
- Free plan: Includes a patient portal, electronic lab and order management, e-signature, e-Prescription, appointment reminders, and built-in fax capability.
- Paid plans: Start at $199 per provider per month and include all the features of the free plan in addition to advanced e-Prescription capabilities and unlimited appointment reminders.
One Touch EMR is a medical practice management platform that lets you record patients’ medical conditions and history with ease. It offers online medical charting, data import from external systems, and drawing and annotation for greater flexibility in recording observations.
The tool’s scheduling feature allows you to view your appointments by day, week, or month. You can check if an appointment is confirmed, rescheduled, canceled, or checked in. You can send automated appointment reminders to your patients as well as use in-app messaging to communicate with them. You can also create and save patient treatment plans and attach images of injuries or affected areas for future reference.
Think One Touch EMR is the right EMR system for you? Read user reviews.
- Free plan: Includes a patient portal, reports, e-Prescriptions, medical billing, and online scheduling.
- Paid plans: The tool is free of cost.
OpenEMR is an open source EMR and medical practice management software tool. It helps your medical practice record, organize, and manage patients’ health information via features such as medical chart tracking, e-Prescriptions, and import and export of medical records.
The software offers a dedicated patient portal via which patients can book appointments, fill in registration forms online, and view their reports and prescriptions. You can schedule recurring appointments and categorize the scheduled appointments by date, health concern, etc. You can also pull up reports on patient lists, confirmed appointments, sales, insurance eligibility, and more.
Think OpenEMR is the right EMR platform for you? Read user reviews.
- Free plan: Includes scheduling, patient medical charting, document management, practice management, health insurance claims adjustments, and e-Prescriptions.
- Paid plans: The tool is free of cost.
New Open Source Health (NOSH) is an open source EMR system that allows you to schedule appointments, save patient records and documents, track your medical inventory, communicate with patients, and much more. Its charting functionality offers in-depth details, including patient demographics, active issues, medications, supplements, and past encounters.
The software lets you generate customized reports, including active medical issues and supply reports. It also provides a built-in patient portal via which your patients can communicate with their physician, fill out and submit medical forms online, and set email and SMS reminders. You can integrate NOSH with other third-party software apps to expand its capabilities.
How to choose the right free and open source EMR tool for your business
Here are some considerations to help make software selection easier for your healthcare organization:
- Analyze your needs. Before shortlisting any EMR software product, take the time to chart out the needs of your healthcare practice. If your needs are centered on maintaining health records—as opposed to maintaining only medical charts—you’ll benefit from using an electronic health record (EHR) solution instead of an EMR tool.
- Check the cost to upgrade. Check the upgrade cost of the EMR software tools you’ve shortlisted. While an open source or a free software tool may be to your liking, its paid plans may not fit your budget. Therefore, inquire about the price beforehand so that budget doesn’t become an issue if you decide to upgrade later.
- Ask about integration options. You may need to integrate your EMR software with your EHR system or practice management system. Without integration support, your software systems will not be able to share patient data, and entering data manually will consume a lot of time. Therefore, select a tool that integrates with the medical software systems you already use at your clinic.
Common questions to ask when selecting a free or an open source EMR tool
You may have many questions when selecting an EMR software solution, and it’s important to get the answers from the software provider. Here are a few key questions to consider asking:
- What kind of support options are available with the free plan? It’s important to get a support option of your choice. See if you’re comfortable with email support or if you frequently have pressing issues that require real-time support via phone or live chat.
- Will my staff need additional training to operate the tool? Check if the tool is intuitive enough for your employees to operate without requiring any additional training. Also, ensure the software provider offers training resources or onboarding support to tackle the queries your team may encounter.
- Will I be charged extra for tech support? While many software providers offer technical support free of cost, it’s not true for all. Therefore, check with the software provider about the charges applicable for technical support, and see if you’re comfortable shelling out the extra dollars, if any.
How we rate
This article was updated on June 25, 2021.
Products considered for this article had to:
- Rank high on Google’s search engine result pages for the keyword “free EMR software” (as of June 22, 2021). Products with higher SERP ranking were given preference.
- Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Meet our EMR software market definition: EMR/EHR software automates the clinical operations of healthcare providers. It allows medical professionals to create, store, update, and share digital patient charts, histories, medications, test results, and more.