On January 29th, 2006, I published an article to LinuxMedNews about my use of OpenEMR in Family Practice. At the time, I ran the entire system within a Virtual Machine. A Virtual Machine, or VM, is like a computer within a computer. It made it possible for Rod Roark of Sunset Systems in California to set up my complete system within a VM and provide it to me as a file to download.
At the time, I could have set up the system by myself, but I was overwhelmed with the many responsibilities of starting a new practice. It was affordable and easy to pay Rod to set up a fresh, working OpenEMR system for me. I simply loaded the VM and ran a full Linux computer in a window on the screen of a Windows XP computer.
Over the years, I have developed and refined the system. It has evolved along with my practice. While I read about the struggles that many physicians have with commercial EMR systems, I have only grown to love my EMR more and more over the years. That is because it gives me the freedom to fix whatever problems I have with it and make it work the way I want it to work.
While my use of OpenEMR in Family practice has progressed significantly since 2006, in many ways it has not changed at all. That is because the foundation of how the system works is very solid and sensible. I don’t need to fix what isn’t broken. And, it still works. Many commercial systems will break existing software during upgrade cycles without good reason.
Open source software gives me the freedom to choose what needs to be changed and what may be left alone. I can understand the ongoing frustration with closed, proprietary EMR systems. They take away our freedom.