8 Benefits, Drawbacks of Open-Source EHRs for Safety-Net Hospitals

The use of open-source electronic health record software has both benefits and drawbacks for safety-net hospitals, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Researchers at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted a literature review, interviews, a comprehensive environment scan and a series of site visits to federally qualified health centers between April and September 2010.

Four systems were used across the six test sites: MedLynks, WorldVistA, OpenMRS and ClearHealth.

Discovered advantages of the open EHR systems include:
•    Appropriate level of functionality
•    Easy to download and install
•    Able to modify the EHR system to fit the needs of the facility
•    Lower acquisition and implementation costs (30 to 60 percent less than commercial systems)
•    Inherent interoperability found in many open-source systems

Discovered disadvantages include:
•    Some design flaws that were not apparent during initial implementation
•    Need for a higher level of technical skill among IT staff to fully utilize the software
•    Continuing stigma against the use of open-source EHRs

More Articles on EHRs:

Study: EHRs Linked to Cost Savings in Outpatient Settings
HHS' Dr. Farzad Mostashari: EHRs Improve Patient Safety
AMA Releases Best Practices for Using EHRs Around Patients

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