Using OpenMRS in clinical research & some technical questions

Application Name: Reference Application Version Number: 1.11.6

Question: Hi there!

I am a med student charged with collecting clinical and patient data for clinical research in my institution in Italy. I set up an installation of OpenEMR on a virtualized server and so far we are using it without major problems, but the cluttered interface, the amount of features we don’t need and the tricky configuration process made me want to search for something simpler and to leave OpenEMR to physicians who really need all the features provided.

So I came upon OpenMRS: I tried it in the demo and I was astonished. Our work is based on visits, so a traditional and simple installation would suffice, and the relevant data would be collected by using the visit module or by setting up a module of our own, since the system - from what I understand - makes it quite easy.

Problem is, I only have basic Java programming capabilities and I have absolutely no experience in setting up a server. I struggled for weeks just to make the virtualized server on which I run OpenEMR accessible from the outside, so, even if I am willing to give OpenMRS a try, I can’t afford to spend much time learning a new system. I don’t expect such a complex thing to get plug and play, but I would love to have an idea of the steps and the path that lie in front of me if I choose to set it up.

As I see it now, there are two possibilities:

  • installing a standalone version of OpenMRS on my laptop, which is a 2012 Apple MacBook Pro, and bringing it with me every time I need to collect data;
  • setting up an OpenMRS installation so I can access it over the Internet from the hospital’s machines, leaving the program sitting in a virtual server running at home and reachable behind my router.

As for the first solution, I just downloaded the file listed in the download page under Reference Application 2.4 - Standalone Edition and the file I got is a folder named openmrs-standalone-1.11.6. I extracted the and files, getting a data and data 2 folders, and launched the jar via graphical interface, at first, and via terminal, later.

Unfortunately, all I got is the following:

The following error occurred at startup:

Error occurred while trying to get the updates needed for the database. Unable to get a connection to the database. Please check your openmrs runtime properties file and make sure you have the correct connection.username and connection.password set

java.lang.RuntimeException: Error occurred while trying to get the updates needed for the database. Unable to get a connection to the database. Please check your openmrs runtime properties file and make sure you have the correct connection.username and connection.password set at […]

A lot of strings detailing errors appear, but I didn’t post them to not make the post too long: I can post them if necessary. I am running macOS Sierra (10.12.1) and Java 8 Update 101 build 14; the page opened in Safari 10.0.1, but I don’t know if this matter (I don’t think so).

Could anyone please kindly explain what I’m doing wrong and guide me if needed to the steps for setting up this standalone setup? Thank you very much, bye!

Hi @acd0236 here is the latest release of the OpenMRS Reference Application: Try the standalone version by simply downloading it, unzip, and double click the openmrs-standalone.jar file to run.

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I’m no expert…but I like evaluating OpenMRS standalone versions from time to time. The 1st suspect is usualy the Java runtime environment; the standalone OpenMRS requires JRE 7 (Your OS has 8). Try installing JRE 7 and see what happens.

@webster thank you so much for helping! :smile: The latest release (as per last week) runs on Java 8

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Hi there and thank you so much for your help!

The system is working, and I am very pleased by it. I will study how to put it in a virtual server that runs at my home so me and my colleagues could connect to it remotely and from different machines at the hospital.

For now, I have the following - very basic - questions.

  • How do I change the locations? I have only inpatient wards in my study (the patient is admitted to inpatient ward, we see him three times and he goes home whenever the clinicians choose), so I wouldn’t need the other ones.

  • How do I generate a PDF with the report of a patient?

Thank you very much in advance!

By the way, did you get a chance to look at this?

As for the patient PDF report, do you have a sample of what you are expecting? Or some sort of mockup?

Hi Daniel,

I am so sorry I posed a question that could have been answered just by reading the documentation you posted. I will delve into it in the coming days.

As for the PDF, I will provide you with a synthesis of the data that I would need to be printed when I will have a clearer picture of the functionalities of the program.

Thanks again for the eccellent support!

Hi, I have messed around a little bit with the standalone Reference Application and I outlined the small needs for customization that separate me from adopting OpenMRS as the software with which me and my fellow med students work with data.

First of all, I tried to create a new form, something that would appear like the Vitals form but with the idea of storing the results of the neurocognitive tests we submit to our patients. I created two concepts: Mini Mental State Examination and Geriatric Index of Comorbidity, and I was able to customize them and store them. Then, I proceeded to duplicate the Vitals form, renamed the copy T0, as we collect those data at our first visit which is labelled as such, and added the two sample concepts by searching for them and setting properties on the green box. I then saved, but when I go to Manage Forms under Configure Metadata I don’t see the Add button…

The second thing I would need in the current research practice would be to print all of the data of a patient, but I have looked around and I still have no idea on how to do it. A text document would suffice, formatted in a clean and consequential manner. But extracting data and printing them will become important only as we can insert the data in the standard and customized forms.

For now, I would be very happy to manage to set up some new forms: T0 (with MMSE, GIC, Geriatric Depression Scale, Neecham Confusion Scale, Trail Making Test, Digit Span Test, Digit Symbol Substitution Test), T1 (the same as T1 without the first three), T2 (the same as T1) and a very simple lab test results/radiology findings form (transaminases and creatinine concentration, thorax radiogram findings and a generic space for notes). Those forms consist only of numeric fields (if thorax radiogram is pathologic we simply put “1”, whereas if it is not we write “0”) and should be considered in a printed report of the single patient we have to archive in paper form, thanks to the antiquated laws of our country.

As for not seeing the Add button for the form you duplicated, it could simply be a result of an encounter type that is considered among those whose forms cannot be modified. You could set it up at and i take a look to confirm.

For printing patient data, i will advise after taking a look at what you would like to get out.