OpenMRS vs commercial applications

For a small practice, what are the pros and cons of OpenMRS vs other commercially available applications that need some modifications but not the cost of a dedicated IT person for 2 months?

@jeffneiman, @janflowers

You might want to specify where your small practice is, and whether it is has a specialty or relationship with a care network as that would effect any feedback…

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I see that this is a followup to Developing an application for child & adolescent mental health in Egypt

@hanan, this question can have a very long answer. I’m just going to give a short one…

Just talking about cost, It’s important to note that even though the OpenMRS software itself is free, deploying any EMR/HIS requires a significant investments, such as:

  • hardware (e.g. computers, and networking/power infrastructure)
  • human capacity (e.g. hiring data managers, training clinical staff on usage)
  • implementation services (configuration, deployment, support, and maybe custom software development, unless your own technical team can do this)
  • ongoing technical support

If you don’t have in-house IT support, then you’d most likely be paying for implementation services around the configuration, deployment, and support of OpenMRS. If you post a more detailed question on #implementing:job-board you might get some (private) more concrete answers about the cost ranges for this kind of work, for your scenario. And you’d be able to compare this to a commercial offering.

As an aside, you might want to look at Bahmni which is an OpenMRS distribution, and has more out-of-the-box functionality than other OpenMRS alternatives.

In a very general sense, the advantages of OpenMRS (or free software in general) are:

  • you avoid vendor lock-in because at any future point you (or someone you hire) can modify the system to suit your needs. In practice this requires software development work, which is expensive, but you’re not locked into a single commercial vendor.
  • you’d always have straightforward and easy access to your data, at no cost.

A disadvantage is that there aren’t really any existing business models worked out around OpenMRS and single-provider practices.


It is a child and adolescent mental health practice located in Egypt

@darius Thank you for your reply, yes the idea of being able to modify it without being tied to a single vendor is encouraging