Learning Open EMR


I’d like to know if installing and learning this software will be useful. I have a BS in Health Informatics, RHIA license but am having difficulty finding a position. I have been working with Python using data analysis tools to build a portfolio and wondering if learning Open EMR will be useful (presuming I could populate it with some fake data).

Any feedback would be welcome.

OpenEMR Version
Not installed

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Operating System
I’m using: Debian 10

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Hi Mark,
Open source projects are a great way to build a resume for those wishing to show experience in a particular discipline.

We have had many students in the past contribute to OpenEMR in a meaningful way and then point back to the project as work experience. I know several that are working in industry today thanks to this experience. I wish I had opensource project opportunities when I was a newly degreed engineer in '82.

I’m unsure what type of project you’re interested in but, I think we’ve started an intern program.
Umm, @Rachel_Ellison any thoughts?

Thanks Jerry for responding with your feedback! I’m currently working with Python (beginner) and dove right in with Covid time series datasets from Johns Hopkins (along with some other questions that I would like to build on that aren’t health related but show my work using both Python and SQL). The datasets presented a challenge as I had to figure out how to convert from wide format to long and a few other things to clean it up. Plenty of help but still a lot of trial and error. I’m not quite there yet with the data viz and dashboard parts.

I was looking to just familiarize myself with an EMR and how it works (and ties together with HIM) but not sure if that would work without it being populated with some (fake) patient information. The intern sounds intriguing but not sure if I could fit that into my schedule. Do you have a link so I can at least take a look at what it entails?

Again, thank you for your feedback!

Hi @Mark_Moralls -

I got my BS CompSci / Health Informatics degree in June of 2014. One of the suggestions about finding work with our new degree was to contribute to Free/ Open Source programs and get noticed by the companies that are involved with it. Mine is a boring story- no drama, no tension: over the summer after I graduated I discovered OpenEMR. I installed it and wrote documentation as a way to get to know the application better. In October I got hired by one of the vendors. As far as I’m concerned, FOSS is a great way to find a job.

And OpenEMR is a good way to familiarize oneself with the general principles of what EHRs do, though you’ll find huge variations in the different approaches to the tasks: Epic EHR has a different model of healthcare than GE Centricity, which does things differently than OpenEMR. But they’re all moving patients through the healthcare process, so have certain commonalities that are useful to know, no matter which EHR you end up working with.

I was a nurse for a long time and that has come in handy in understanding the work I do with OpenEMR supporting Drs’ offices. If you don’t have experience in healthcare you might want to take a look at O’Reilley’s ‘Hacking Healthcare’. It is almost as good as a nursing degree. I got mine as a free download back when it was published but I don’t know if the freebie is still available.

And finally- if you hang around the OpenEMR forum a while you’ll probably see mentions of a guy named Art Eaton, one of the old time developers in the Project. Back in the day he came out with a nifty thing called ‘Print-a-Patient’ that generates dummy patient data. It’s a wonderful utility if you can cope with 3 things which I choose to view as educational opportunities:

  1. It originally ran under, what, Win 7? Win 98? It still works if you can make Win 10 handle it, but it runs fine under wine on linux systems.
  2. OpenEMR changed the structure of its database when it moved into v 5.0 (I think) so the insurance data that Print-a-Patient generates don’t fit any more. When you run the program you’ll see you can simply choose to not generate insurance data. But the demographics and other data should import just fine.
  3. You’ll need to install phpMyAdmin or Adminer in order to import the MySQL data files. But if you’re going to get to know OpenEMR as a dev you’re going to need direct database access anyway.

Here’s a link to Print-a-Patient:

Welcome to the Community, and see you around the forums!
Best- Harley


make sure you checkout the easy dev docker readme @Mark_Moralls

Hi Harley,

Wow! Thank you so much for the feedback! I finally feel like I belong to a community now. I’ve tried others (my school, StackOverflow and others) but either people are too busy to answer my questions or my questions weren’t correct. First off, I have been using Linux for quite awhile so am comfortable with it and believe in open source. I think now that I have some experience with Python as well and your support I very much want to contribute in any way to build my portfolio. I went to the wiki and installed Debian Buster (not sure where I saw that) on an Intel NUC that was previously my main PC, but got stuck on some dependencies. But I just went back to the wiki and see that I need to install the Lenny version.

I do have a question though and would appreciate your thoughts. I found a course (Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate) through Coursera that I thought would help me along with the web app I mentioned before. It clocks in at 180 hours (6 months, $40 a month) to complete, but the best part is that it comes with a capstone. The capstone that I completed as part of my degree was satisfied but gave me no hands-on experience with a company or, ideally, a healthcare organization to cement my learning. I did have 8 years working with a CRO in pharmaceutical but to me they are an accessory (for want of the correct word) to healthcare. Trying to juggle the EMR, portfolio and the course is challenging.

So my question is: would my efforts be better invested in the book you mentioned along with the OpenEMR program and drop the course and portfolio?

Thanks again!

Thanks Stephen! I will look into this.

Hi Mark-
Glad I am you feel included, this forum is good for that.
But by way of being supportive, I can’t give any advice about the dev- type stuff you’re asking. My HI degree was the business/ healthcare admin side of things, not the coding side of it. I’ve been doing OpenEMR documentation and customer support all this time, not coding-- go with what Stephen or the other devs say about your question!
But I will say that if you’re going to get into OpenEMR you’ll need to be at least aware of basic healthcare workflows, even if you don’t have the healthcare experience, or you won’t know the desired output of what you’re coding. Fortunately the internet knows about healthcare workfllows; you don’t need to buy a book.
The wiki is pretty jumbled and hard to find things but if you haven’t seen it yet you might want to go through this doc just for a high level view of most of the things OpenEMR does. V 6 has some new things not mentioned, but this’ll get you started.

Best of luck, and see you around!

  • HT