Practice Fusion is the fourth most popular EHR vendor according to our research, with around 30,000 customers and 112,000 users. It’s the only solution in the top five with a free version.
It is pretty much the first name you’ll hear whenever someone mentions “free” and “EMR” in the same sentence.
It’s a web-based EMR that targets small and mid-sized medical practices (up to 1,000 employees).
The software is completely free, and is ad-supported (meaning you will see relevant ads within the software). Billing is not included in the software, but here are the billing vendors Practice Fusion integrates with.
Practice Fusion is backed with hundreds of millions in venture funding, and that money has been put to good use with the modern interface and intuitive design. Our reviewers give the platform an average rating of 4/5 stars, calling the software easy to use and simple to get started on. PF offers full support (though not 24/7 live support) with great “hand holding” for those new to electronic health systems and those just switching. It’s also got an array of slick premade templates and will integrate with tablets. Practice Fusion is certified for Meaningful Use, so you also qualify for EHR stimulus funds if you use it.
Practice Fusion is certified for Meaningful Use, so you also qualify for EHR stimulus funds if you use it.
Practice Fusion doesn’t offer E/M coding or handwriting recognition. One user, Casey Burnett, Owner of Present Moment Counseling.com, says Practice Fusion isn’t super psychotherapy friendly. Burnett reports having issues streamlining their process for keeping simple SOAP notes, calling it “nearly impossible.”
Another user, Trish Lindberg at Salveo, called it calls the software slow and unreliable and had a complaint complains about the support staff.
Used Practice Fusion? Leave a review!
As an open-source EMR, OpenMRS has been around for quite some time. It started in 2004, and a number of government agencies and local international healthcare non-profits and universities such as the Millennium Villages Project and the University of Virginia use it.
OpenMRS is an EMR platform, rather than an EMR, meaning it “enables design of a customized medical records system with no programming knowledge.”
A patient profile in OpenMRS
Because OpenMRS is a platform, rather than a developed system, it can be easily customized to meet specific needs. This makes it ideal for creating EMR systems in developing countries (where, for instance, they wouldn’t need the insurance information that a U.S.-based practice might) and the tons of add-on modules and easily accessible API allow for even further customization.
Because OpenMRS is not a fully-formed EMR program, it does require an upfront investment of time and energy to create a customized EMR. Additionally, while programming knowledge is not required to create the EMR, in-depth medical and systems analysis knowledge is.
VistA is the most familiar EHR in the U.S., according to Wikipedia. (Yes, it has a Wikipedia entry.) Developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it handles over 8 million veterans’ medical records. Because more than 65% of all physicians trained in the U.S. rotate through the VHA on clinical electives, many physicians have experience using it.
Its source code was made public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and it’s available for download on the VA’s website. There are also a number of communities further developing VistA separate from the VA, of which OSEHRA is one of the most well-known.
Screenshot of VistA
VistA is, literally, the largest EMR implementation on the planet. Nearly half of all U.S. hospitals with a complete inpatient/outpatient enterprise-wide implementation of an EHR are VA hospitals using VistA. It’s a battle-hardened, proven solution. And you (likely) don’t have to worry about the provider going out of business anytime soon.
The system is ideal for large organizations and hospitals and has almost daily updates rolled out to address any issues and to make improvements.
However, VistA is not a young program, so it’s not as user-friendly or easy to maintain as some of the more modern solutions out there. It’s also a “megasuite” product where you get all the functionality in one product, but you’re essentially stuck within that “ecosystem” for all your medical software needs.
FreeMED is an open-source, old-as-dirt EMR. Founded in 1999, it’s one of the longest-running open source EMRs out there. It boasts over 81,000 downloads and implementation in everything from small private practices to large government hospitals.
FreeMD has a long pedigree, and this, along with an active support community, contributes to its stability and support.
That said, it looks like development has petered off. The last developer discussions ended in July 2012. If this product is of interest to you, make sure you have a tech-savvy person or team on hand to develop or modernize the software going forward.
Being open source, OpenEMR is not web-based, but it can run on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and other operating systems as an installed or self-hosted program.
A patient profile in OpenEMR
With so many downloads and users, OpenEMR has a very active support community if you have any issues, questions with installation, and more. In fact, the community has been referenced by just about every review online as “great” and “extremely helpful.”
Additionally, customization, assuming your office has someone with tech skills, is quite doable and the open source code allows for all sorts of add-ons and tweaks.
Unfortunately, while OpenEMR is 2014 ONC Complete Ambulatory EHR certified, it is not yet Stage II certified for Meaningful Use. It is Stage I certified, and the project is currently raising money for Stage III. Additionally, the UI is a little dated compared to the freemium and ad-supported options referenced above.
One Touch EMR is a cloud-based EMR that includes electronic prescribing, lab integration, and a drawing tool for annotations.
One Touch EMR is certified for Meaningful Use I and II and ICD-10 ready. There’s an iPad app in which you can do everything you can do on a desktop, and you can also add clinical photos. Dragon Medical dictation helps you document quickly, and the template library includes multiple specialties.
Capterra reviewers enjoy the “familiar” design of the workflow, with one writing, “You can tell the product was designed by a doctor. [It] helps me document faster.” Another describes One Touch EMR as “easy to use and implement. They have a great training program that is a must with any new EMR. The staff also enjoys the ease of use for the product.”
The only real complaints were about the learning curve, but the reviewer mentioned that One Touch EMR offers great training, and another reviewer wrote, “I wish more people were using them, so there was a better user-group for troubleshooting.”
Used One Touch EMR? Leave a review!
And there you have it. Six free solutions to meet your EMR needs. Remember to check whether the open-source solutions are or can be easily modified to be Meaningful Use and ICD-certified before investing in setting them up.
What did I miss? Are you using or aware of any other great free EMRs out there?
Looking for Electronic Medical Records software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Electronic Medical Records software solutions.
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About the Author
Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at email@example.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.
Comment by Elanchezhiyank on January 17, 2014 at 5:39 am
OpenEMR is web based application.
Comment by George Dougherty, Medical Practice Automation Associates on May 8, 2014 at 5:15 am
OpenEMR is licensed under GNU. GNU and OpenEMR software are designed for “lack extensive computer experience” types of medical facilities. Now what are theadvantages / disadvantages of using both? They are quite different, both from the design, functionality and architecture. OpenEMR is a LAMP Electronic Medical Record. GNU Health is a modular Information System.
Comment by Pol Cornejo on May 12, 2014 at 6:14 am
I am doing a cooperation project on ehealth. I am now searching for the EHR which matches best with what i need. The software has to be used in a town of Nepal without internet acces. Do you know if there’s any option to modify the interface of the software ? I have tried openEMR, but it’s not what i am really looking for. Thank you
Comment by Jennifer McDuffee on May 16, 2014 at 9:16 am
Hello Health has actually been around since 2008, and developed its revenue generating patient subscription business model as part of its mission to support independent physicians. In addition to its patient subscription program, the company has developed a number of additional tools that enable physicians to get compensated for patient care, and promote sustainability and profitability, including a Credit Card on File program. Hello Health is also now offering a freemium version of its product, which includes full access for practitioners to its electronic health record platform, but puts some limits around training. The new entry level model is ideal for customers that want to test the waters before moving their practices to the revenue-generation plans.
Comment by Jane Smith on August 23, 2014 at 2:06 am
Really interesting one. Each of the Electronic Medical Record Software options along with their pros and cons have been wonderfully described. Thanks for sharing the information.
Comment by ANONYMOUS on September 13, 2014 at 4:46 pm
Hello Health looks great, but GOOD LUCK getting a response from them. Took 6 WEEKS for them to respond that they couldn’t work with us. Pathetic.
Comment by Anonymous EHR Specialist on September 16, 2014 at 3:39 pm
I have worked as a implementation Specialist for over 7 years with EPIC one of the larger and most expensive EHR systems out there on the market today. My request is that someone explain the difference between a EMR and EHR because some of the systems listed are different.
I am currently running a Adult Day Care Service for the Elderly who receive Medicaid Benefits. I am looking for a free EHR service to use and document patients/clients (the elderly) administration of medications and also other clinical documentation.
Comment by JP Medved on September 16, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Hi Anonymous EHR Specialist,
You may find this helpful about the difference between EMR and EHR:
That said, often the phrases are used interchangeably, so I wouldn’t get too caught up in which is which.
Comment by PCP_care on December 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm
I am a primary care doctor, practicing in CA. I think of all these free EMRs Practice Fusion is by far the most user friendly and advanced. I’ve been using it in my community among other doctors. As the article noted it has BIG limitations on the lab and rad interfaces. Even Quest and LabCorp are not connected for most of my peers. Not having a billing system is minus, especially after I switched from ECW, but we use an outside agency and its covered. For all lab, rad, PT, pharma and SNF interfaces we use HealthGorilla.com and for online appointments we use Zocdoc.com; so is everybody else in California I think. If you use practice fusion with these other free systems (except Zocdoc is paid) – it is actually the best one out there for my purposes.
Comment by JP Medved on December 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm
Great information PCP_care, thanks for sharing your experience.
Comment by Janice Archer on February 14, 2015 at 8:08 pm
right on regarding: PRACTICEFUSION i have been using Practicefusion for two years now Dec 4 they completey changed . I have no access to my scheduler, nor can i get accurate prescribing, because the dosage is lift out of the script. plus patients can no longer schedule their own appointments, the message they gets (So patients tell me) sound as if i am closing up the practic. it takes forever to get support, and when i do the answer is “i am sorry for the problem” in a few months …. I DO NOT HAVE A FEW MONTHS . ie looking for another software co
Comment by The Ayurvedic on February 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm
Thanks a lot for sharing such a great stuff. I am planning to develop a medical system for my patients. I really liked the interface of Practice Fusion and Hello Health, hope they works best as I’ll try them.
Comment by Jenny on May 14, 2015 at 8:15 am
You can also add this app http://www.healthmemo.in/ to your list. Digitize your health records with this free app
Comment by Afe on May 14, 2015 at 9:40 pm
Point of correction, OpenEMR is 100 percent web base application.
With the following Features
1 A Special Appeal
2 OpenEMR Features
2.2 ONC Certified
2.3 Patient Demographics
2.4 Patient Scheduling
2.5 Electronic Medical Records
2.7 Medical Billing
2.8 Clinical Decision Rules
2.9 Patient Portal
2.11 Multilanguage Support
Comment by Amjed Khan on June 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm
Hi good reviews. What do you recommend for the UK?
Comment by Jenny on June 10, 2015 at 5:30 am
I am using this app http://www.healthmemo.in/ for EHR.
Comment by Jocelyn on July 1, 2015 at 1:10 am
Hi guys, I’m currently doing my research project regarding tracking of Infant Immunization using an Open Source software. which of these listed above open source EMR software can be extended and use to the mentioned research project. thanks
Comment by JP Medved on July 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm
If you need something open source, OpenEMR or FreeMed are likely the most “out of the box” solutions. I think both should be able to track immunization records.
Comment by lila on July 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm
I am new to electronic health systems and would appreciate it if you could direct me to web sites where I can gain knowledge in this area.
Thank you so much
Comment by JP Medved on July 8, 2015 at 12:49 pm
Hi Lila, I put together a list of great informational resources for EHR, hope this helps:
Comment by lila on July 9, 2015 at 8:56 am
Thank you so very much
Comment by Jocelyn on July 31, 2015 at 12:13 pm
@JP : Big Thanks will look at FreeMed and will read related articles.
Pingback by How to Get Physicians to Adopt Electronic Health Records - Newsity on September 24, 2015 at 2:38 pm
[…] elaborate Excel spreadsheet. That is why many doctors are still not willing to use them, even for free. Electronic health records by themselves are just cranky databases that only archive […]
Comment by SallyCarney on December 3, 2015 at 6:28 am
This is a new information for me, because free software for clinical records management is new for me. I have heard about these types of system, but everything was paid. I think that these free softwares cannot be used in big hospitals. But these will surely help clinics and all.
Comment by Gurpreet Luthra on December 30, 2015 at 5:20 am
May I recommend Bahmni, a lightweight and fully open source EMR and Hospital Management system built on top of OpenMRS, OpenELIS (Lab) and Odoo (ERP). It is especially targeted towards low resource settings — and has been already deployed in multiple locations in the Indian sub-continent.
It included features around Registration, Lab, OPD, IPD, Radiology, Pharmacy, Billing, Programs, etc and uses OpenMRS data model to store patient records.
For more details visit: http://www.bahmni.org.
(Disclosure: I am the community lead for Bahmni)
Comment by danielvhenny on January 5, 2016 at 5:24 am
nice products .really worth reading.
Comment by JocDoc on February 5, 2016 at 8:58 am
PracticeMate is free and has a free billing module with free clearinghouse and certified. Part of OfficeAlly system
Comment by Renae Rossow on February 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm
Of all of these, there’s a pretty huge player that’s missing. iSALUS Healthcare is a web-based FREE EHR that is amazingly comprehensive and able to be customized for a huge variety of specialties. You can learn more at http://isalushealthcare.com
Comment by Amr Arafat on February 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm
Which one is better for international use outside USA? Practice fusion is limited to USA
Comment by JP Medved on February 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm
All the open source options will work outside the US, but they may not be optimized for your country’s medical regulatory or reporting environment, so make sure they can do what you need them to before committing.
Comment by Tayo Akinwumi on March 10, 2016 at 5:08 am
@ Gurpreet Luthra
Interesting stuff. Can Bahmni be configured/modified to work using smart card technology and biometrics for patient identification and authentication? We are currently working on implement such an EHR system
Comment by Chetna McWane on April 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm
Hi JP and all, we are looking for a free and open-source EHR system which is “Mobile friendly” so that patient-interface, doctor-interface, lab-interface, these all can be managed via “smartphones (Android)” with minimal requirement for web-based administration (may be limited to lab-interface). This is needed for community deprived of access to personal computers/ laptops. Which of these listed products (or the new ones which have come after this article) most suit the mobile friendliness. Thanks in advance.
Comment by Rusi on June 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm
Quick question, I want to sale and support an EMR solution to some of small doctors an clinic of my hometown country. What product would you recommend? It needs to be modifiable and cloud friendly. Many doctors don’t have the time to learn and install this type of software and I can take advantage of that. What do you think? please let me know.
Comment by Michael Lloyd Whitworth on June 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm
Kareo is definitely not a free EHR. The charge is $300 for a physician. This data is directly from the salesman that contacted me on 6/23/16
Comment by JP Medved on June 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm
It looks like Kareo has changed their pricing model since this post first went live. They’ll be removed in our next update. Thanks for the catch!
Comment by Jason on July 20, 2016 at 6:30 am
Used OpenEMR various times and I am completely happy with it.
Comment by Molly David on September 18, 2016 at 8:23 pm
I have recently begun working with a large multi-specialty practice in Grand Cayman that is transitioning to OpenEMR and would appreciate any feedback that you may have as it relates to using this system in a very large multi-specialty practice (19 physicians, 13 specialties) who all see patients in the office as well as the hospital setting. I have never used a “free” service and fear that there will be nightmares on the practice management/revenue cycle side and difficulties with support? I would also love links to good training resources whether videos, manuals, etc. anything would be very much appreciated. Kind Regards
Comment by Anoop on March 9, 2017 at 3:07 am
We are service providers of ERPNext and are working on building apps for the Medical sector. All our works are open source. Visit https://smartehis.com to know more about the features. You may choose smarteCare for your practice management, clinics, or hospitals.
Comment by Robert Abbate on April 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm
One big point that is missing is the fact that all these EMR systems are developed by software engineers which have never spent 1 day in clinical practice. How about a physician designed and developed EHR that is also available free with basic features and upgrades are available? http://www.OneTouchEMR.com is worth a look!
Comment by Paul Doe on May 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm
I run a Radiology Imaging Centre. Are there any open source suggestions similar to any RIS (radiology imaging system) or PACS (picture archiving systems)?
Comment by Stella Doe on June 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm
I believe OpenEMR should have been included in this list. Some of these solutions included are neither open source, nor truly free in the sense of “freedom”, but rather “free” with some sort of caveat; ads, charging for full functionality and features, etc, an example being the first two entries in the article, which are indeed freeware. It is my opinion that such a respected and world renowned health care solution such as OpenEMR should have representation in this list.
One of the most impressive features of OpenEMR is its potential for customization to suit the specific needs of the user and work with other existing entities. Standardized and rigid software products are not practical for smaller healthcare providers or those in less developed countries seeking an EMR solution that can work with limited technology or systems previously implemented.
In the US alone, it has been estimated that there are more than 5,000 installations of OpenEMR in physician offices and other small healthcare facilities serving more than 30 million patients. Internationally, it has been estimated that OpenEMR is installed in over 15,000 healthcare facilities, translating into more than 45,000 practitioners using the system which are serving greater than 90 million patients. This free, open source, customizable software solution would be an excellent addition to this list. Thanks!
Comment by Larry Smith on August 13, 2017 at 8:01 pm
OpenMRS – how can it be used? It offers a few screens with limited data fields, worst than WordPress.
FreeMD – it has been abandoned by the developer. Can’t even see the demo or get the download.
Comment by James Maisel, MD on October 13, 2017 at 5:33 pm
Is anyone with one of these EHRs interested in connecting to the ZyDoc Connect API? This would allow dictation on the ZyDoc Mobile app and moving the text automatically into the EHR section levels. If the EHR has an interface for structured data, ZyDoc can move things like smoking and other Quality Measures into those fields. A ZyDoc NIH sponsored project showed it was 61% faster to dictate than click and keyboard. medinform.jmir.org
They have done this with the leading EHR systems and have top ratings in Capterra and offer free trials.
Comment by Dr. Taylor King on October 20, 2017 at 5:00 am
Thanks for a very nice listing. I have reviewed all of them and decided to go with Solismed, which is also free. It works perfectly for my multi-specialty practice at multiple locations. What a surprise to find that a free EHR can work better than many expensive ones!
Comment by Tony on October 27, 2017 at 10:39 am
openEMR needs to be #1 and actually you can dump the rest. It is 100% compliant with everything from x12, CMS1500, HITECH, HIPAA, HCPCS, ICD-10CM CPT4 and so on. Heaveily marketed and supported by developers. Been downloaded beyond 10,000 times.
– Easy To Use
– Navigation is static
– Provider Access
– Portal Access(If you can get it to work right)
– Clearing house Accessible although we don’t use CH’s, we do it ourselves
– Expandable From Within the app and external
– Professional Looking. Not leapfrog/Kiddy Table looking like literally the other apps I’ve seen.
– Email Reminders
On and on and on. Medical City of Dallas can use this and would probably crap bricks if they knew this existed…. I did. We are just billers so we wouldn’t have to add patients and all of that ALTHOUGH it unlocks services for patient entry/data entry services
Comment by Alex Grimson on November 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm
Too many OpenEMR comments here suggest that someone is trying to influence the public opinion. Why don’t you let users decide which is best for them?
In my opinion, OpenEMR is not that great. It’s poorly built and there is no consistency in how things work. For example, there are at least 5 versions of JQuery being used. Another example is that they let some developer embed Zend in it to offer some of the missing features. I have never seen a reliable system been built this way. Worst of all, they let users modify their certified version. This means that many OpenEMR users are using a system that is no longer in compliance. Sooner or later, they will get into trouble.
Of course, don’t just take my words. Try use all the systems and judge for yourself.
Comment by Heyan on December 10, 2017 at 8:57 am
I think in cloud-based the PracticeSuite is a good option…
Comment by Larry Higgs on January 20, 2018 at 1:52 pm
Hi Cathy, thanks for an excellent listing. Very useful. As I test used them, I was able to find a few more:
1. OSCAR: https://oscar-emr.com
2. Solismed: https://www.solismed.com
3. Nosh EMR: https://noshemr.wordpress.com
Would love to see a review for them as well.
Comment by Gina Tizio on February 4, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Practice Fusion will be moving to a subscription only service by June 2018. I researched many options and my biggest concern was that they would hold my charts hostage and Practice Fusion staff *PROMISED* this would never happen. Five years worth of chart notes later, they are moving over to a monthly paid subscription and have given me 4 months to get recover all of my templates and get my existing chart notes out of their system!
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