Top 10 Open Source Medical Billing and Electronic Medical Records Applications

For those loyal readers of this blog, you’ll know that open source software and in particular open source EMR software has been a much discussed topic. I guess people love it when you talk about a free EMR. I must admit that I’m always intrigued by open source (free) software and open source EMR software is no different.

I recently came across a list of the top 100 Open Source Software Tools for Medical Professionals.

You know I’m a sucker for a list and I especially like EMR lists, so here’s their top 10 open source EMR software:
1. FreeMED
2. OpenEMR
3. OpenEMR Current
4. OpenEMR Virtual Appliance
5. FreeB
6. SmartCare
7. XChart
8. OpenMRS
9. Open Dental Software
10. ClearHealth

Quite an interesting list to choose from. Now if I could just get the data on number of installs for these applications. When I mean installs I mean doctors who actually use these open source EMR systems every day in their practice. Anyone want to let us know where we can find that data? Or any open source EMR packages want to fill us in on their progress?

I’ll update the post if I find anything or get that information in the comments.

Interesting. I wonder why none of these are CCHIT certified?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Our team is working on another open source EMR called elementalClinic. It’s focused on mental health.

    We currently have about 150 clinicians who are using our software every day. These are our paying customers. I’m not quite sure how many clinicians we have when you include people who have just downloaded the package off our website but I’d put the number under 500.

    So not that much but we’re growing quickly and I firmly believe that open source EMR’s are going to be the future.

  • Oh.. and to answer “why aren’t these CCHIT certified”. Our company actually writes testing tools that CCHIT uses during their certification process so we have a firm grasp of what’s required. At this point, it’s just not something our customers have been asking for so we haven’t dedicated resources to it.

  • Alex,
    Thanks for the comments. elementalClinic looks like a great project. I think you might have found the right way to build an open source EMR. 150 paying customers (clinicians) is a strong foundation for developing an open source EMR. Then, those 150 clinicians can benefit from a paid development crew along with those who will contribute code to the open source project.

    Thanks for opening up this new perspective on EMR open source projects.

    As far as the CCHIT question, I was being very sarcastic. The cool part is that your answer describes exactly why CCHIT is a waste of money. No provider really wants CCHIT, because it doesn’t certify if the EMR is usable or not. It only tests features. People who rely on CCHIT don’t understand what CCHIT is even about. They’re just fishing for a way to save them time searching for an EMR, but I digress.

    I’d LOVE to hear more about your experience with CCHIT and the testing tools you’ve written to help CCHIT. As you can tell right now I’m quite biased to the expensive and ineffective process. Maybe you can help me to see another angle on why CCHIT is worthwhile.

  • Very interesting. I have recently retired from Family Practice and have been looking at Open Source EMR, mostly at the request of some other docs who know I have the time for this stuff now. I have an IT degree, as well as an MD, so I suppose they want to put me to work again. Anyway, the Wikipedia has a nice web page with a list of open source health care software which is very extensive, it may take awhile to go thru this, but as is usual for the Wikipedia, the information is amazing. BB
    the link to Wikipedia:

  • Thanks for stopping by Bob. Thanks for the link. I’m going to have to look at that and see what I can incorporate into my targeted EHR and EMR open source wiki list.

    Sounds like you do have a good background and we can definitely use more smart people working on these projects. Maybe you should start a blog and write about it. Or I’d welcome a guest post on this blog if you have something interesting to say.

  • I would like to talk to Bob Berman to see if he can be a mentor to me and I do all the work around helping doctors move to EHR and integrate with existing systems and process. Im new to health care I.T. but been consulting in integration space on the Microsoft platform for 10 years in other industries.

  • Hi,

    I am the president of Open Source Medical Software, a non-profit that supports open source medical software. We mostly have been concentrating our efforts on OEMR (OpenEMR) and have mounted a full effort with about 30 professional developers to finish Meaningful Use and CCHIT certification. The main reason that almost no open source projects get certified is that the certification takes a lot od money. The average cost for a fortune 500 company is $200,000+. Who many open source projects can come up with that kind of cash? The application fee is $35,000 but the main costs are making sure that you can pass all those criteria and scripts (in 2008 this was 473). Hopefully the concentration of HHS on Meaningful Use will help this process.

    We have at least 500 physician users in the United States and about that much world wide. OpenEMR is translated into Spanish, Dutch, Greek, Portugese, Bahasa Indonesian, and Swedish. It has built in practice management and has hooks into Relay Health for e-prescribing. And yes it is free and released under the General GPL. We expect these numbers to jump up a lot when we meet Meaningful Use certification in the first part of 2010.

    Sam Bowen, MD
    Open Source Medical Software

  • Sam,
    Very interesting stuff. I’m glad to see the open source EMR movement moving along so well and with strong backing. It is just very unfortunate that so much money has to be wasted on useless features based upon doctors having poor information about things like certification. I feel for you though, since the perception is out there and VERY real.

    Like you said, I’m hopeful that the new HHS EHR certification criteria will help users to worry less about even more onerous certification processes.

  • Does anyone know where to get the database of medical information? I want to use one these EMRs to build a PHR on top of it. I need the list of all medications, conditions, allergies etc..

  • I am currently in the process of looking for an open source EHR for my long term care facility. Upon starting my search I was Immediately inendated with misinformation regarding CCHIT certification. I was overwhelmed looking for a certified program when come to find out, I don’t need a certified program. There is no medicaid/medicare incentives for LTC facilities to install a certified program. However, there are LTPAC recommendations for certification that can be found here.
    I am still looking for an open source LTC EHR. Any kind of help would be great.

  • Justin,
    You’re so right about all the misinformation out there about CCHIT. Even if you weren’t long term care, it still wouldn’t matter if the EMR was CCHIT certified or not. I’d ignore anything coming out of CCHIT.

    Anyway, glad you figured it out. As far as an open source EHR software, you could look at the software on this list: That said, I don’t think any of them are focused on LTC. Although, since it’s open source, you could pay to have it adapted as needed for LTC. If I were you, I’d first take a look at OpenEMR. They seem to have been getting some traction. Some of the Vista implementations might be worth a look too. It’s what was built by the VA.

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