Open source software has been used in various industries across world for its specific advantages. More and more open source projects are being used as viable alternatives to expensive proprietary software.
In highly regulated industries such as healthcare, data privacy regulations and complex IT environments may pose a challenge to keep up with the latest technology developments. That’s why many organizations turn to open source healthcare software.
Using open source software in healthcare has increased due to its flexibility, security, and affordability. Read on to find out what are the best open source alternatives you can use in your healthcare organization.
What is open source healthcare software?
Open source software refers to solutions that have open - or publicly available - source code. This means that anyone can see the source code, and make changes to it for their own use.
This kind of software has several unique advantages over proprietary (closed source) software, such as increased flexibility and security.
Open source software is used in healthcare and healthcare-related industries for different purposes. There are open source medical information systems, healthcare communication solutions, medical practice management apps, and more.
Companies operating in the healthcare and related industries succumb to specific security regulations like HIPAA. Using the highly flexible open source software helps them comply with such regulations - and usually at a reduced price.
6 best open source software for healthcare
Rocket.Chat is a versatile open source software that can be used in healthcare to connect with patients, colleagues, and vendors.
Since it supports HIPAA compliant messaging, it is a useful addition to improving digital communication for healthcare-related businesses.
Due to its open source nature, Rocket.Chat can be used in several ways. It can serve as a live chat on websites, but it can also be integrated within other products as an in-app chat.
In any case, its flexibility is very well suited to cover special demands in the healthcare industry such as HIPAA compliance. Moreover, its omnichannel feature means that patients can get in touch via multiple channels like Instagram, WhatsApp, email, and more.
The open source nature of Rocket.Chat ensures that the highest security standards of healthcare industry are met while utilizing the patient messaging and communication best practices.
Open EMR is a free open source software. It is an Electronic Health Records (EMR) and medical practice management solution, and is run by a team of enthusiasts that promises to keep the software free forever.
This feature-rich solution supports over 30 languages worldwide and offers volunteer support network. With over 30 vendors in 10 countries, Open EMR is the embodiment of open source software for healthcare organizations.
There isn’t much you cannot do with Open EMR. Healthcare providers, insurance companies, and Health Tech businesses can utilize the scheduling feature, e-Prescribing, and billing. There are also powerful automation features that can be especially useful for sending and receiving lab orders.
Open EMR can be on-premise or cloud-based, giving healthcare organizations the option to be fully in control of their data.
Hospital Run is open source healthcare software made to make healthcare more accessible in developing countries. It is easy to use and works offline too, making it a good choice for clinics in remote areas.
Its main purpose is to make hospital management easier and less time consuming for those with less resources. However, this Elelctronic Health Records and Hospital Information System also enables healthcare organizations to more easily partner up with NGOs, government, and technology sectors.
As its name says, Open Dental is an open source healthcare software made for dental practices. This HIPAA compliant software can be used to handle billing, practice management, and electronic charting.
It also supports e-prescriptions and appointment scheduling on the website. The fact that it features a strong mobile version, integrated texting capabilities, mass email, and custom reports is one of the best proofs that open source software can be just as feature rich as proprietary software.
Another proof that open source software in healthcare offers high-quality service is Open Dental’s reviews. Its customers say they would never go for another tool!
Open MRS is a Medical Record System that’s made completely free. The core functionality of this open source healthcare software - holding and managing medical records - can be enriched by multiple add-ons such as reporting and self-scheduling.
Open MRS allows to improve the quality of care and reduces the health workers' time spent managing data. It is supported by a strong open source community and used all over the world.
Open Hospital is a free and open source software that is created to help hospitals manage Electronic Medical Records. It is available in several languages, making it easy to adopt and use for organizations in developing countries.
Developed in Italy, Open Hospital is used in several African countries to support universal healthcare for everyone. It allows doctors and other medical staff to hold records of vaccinations and births, registers patients’ visits, and manage warehouse and pharmaceuticals.
Open Hospital embodies the open source spirit in providing healthcare to patients in rural areas, making it a great project to contribute to.
What are the benefits of open source software for healthcare businesses?
Open source software’s advantage over proprietary software is multi-faceted. In healthcare, it allows businesses to reduce IT infrastructure costs while utilizing the latest technology to improve business operations and patient experience.
Here are the specific reasons why open source healthcare software is on the rise.
1. High flexibility
Every open source software operates under one of the licenses available on the market. These licenses define the conditions under which the software can be used.
As a rule of thumb, open source software is free to copy and use. As such, changes can be made to the software to customize it according to users’ needs.
Due to its transparency, open source software is highly flexible. Healthcare-related businesses operate with different other systems, usually containing large volumes of data. With open source software, they can more easily connect different software.
Moreover, such highly flexible software can more easily fit into the complex IT infrastructure that healthcare organizations usually have.
2. Increased security
Healthcare-related businesses operate with sensitive patient data. Regulations such as HIPAA make strong data privacy standards an absolute must-have for any organization in the healthcare industry.
One of the biggest benefits of open source software is its security. Since it is publicly accessible, there are many more “eyes” on the code. Members of open source communities constantly propose changes to the software to improve its functionalities or raise its security.
Due to its security, open source software is a great choice for healthcare organizations that want to make sure their business data stays protected.
3. Bigger cost-benefit ratio
Open source software comes at a cheaper price than proprietary software. Moreover, the costs of customization can get pretty high with proprietary software - not to mention the time it takes to implement and test the software itself.
With open source software, healthcare businesses can use the latest technology at a reduced cost and get all the benefits like security and flexibility.
Harness the power of open source software in healthcare communication
Healthcare organizations that want to provide the highest level of support to their patients are adopting HIPAA compliant chat solutions at an increased pace. Such tools represent the best of both worlds: the highest data protection standards and powerful communication means.
Rocket.Chat’s open source technology enables businesses to securely connect with patients regardless of the communication channel they use. Moreover, it facilitates easy team collaboration between doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.