Four Things to Consider Before Selecting an Open Source EHR

Open source EHR systems offer several enticing features such as low cost, customization to the medical practice, and the ability work without a vendor contract. However, choosing this option requires diligence on the part of the medical administration. Before selecting an open source EHR, it is important to ensure that your practice is prepared. Here are four things to consider before selecting an open source EHR:

1. Security issues

Security and patient privacy must be the top priority for a medical practice, and this must be taken into consideration when choosing an EHR system. In an open source EHR, the community of programmers working on the code are those who ensure its security. Because there are so many programmers working with the code, there are more eyes examining for security flaws.

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However, with so many programmers working with the code, there is the potential for the coding to get into the wrong hands. Additionally, just because there are so many programs, it does not mean that every security flaw has been caught or resolved. The system should be ONC-certified (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology), in which case they generally will adhere to national guidelines for security. In addition, your practice should have an experienced computer programmer to examine and update the program security regularly.

2. Development costs

Although the cost of open source EHR systems is much less (or even free), the developmental costs can be high. Unless you are a professional programmer, you will need to hire a professional (or several) to be able to manage security and privacy compliance, code changes, customization to your practice and integrating the system within your practice. Just like other EHR systems, you will also incur the costs of updating technology and workstations.

3. Operational challenges

Open source EHR systems are not intended for unskilled, inexperienced users. Generally, the systems are not as user friendly and easy to operate as proprietary EHR systems. Therefore, using this type of system may cause more employee struggle and require longer training periods for implementation.

4. Lack of EHR as a service

With traditional, proprietary EHR system, you get the advantage of having an  established system with resources and their own personnel of information technology professionals. Therefore, if a problem arises, the practitioners can contact the vendor and have their professionals handle the issue. Additionally, much of the liability and security responsibilities fall to the vendor. With open source EHR, there is much more ownership of data, security, and troubleshooting for the professionals of the medical practice.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant

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