Preferred Names or Nicknames

We have many clients that prefer to be called by another name rather than their birth name. There are many reasons for this, one in particular is someone who is part of the transgender community.

We have been addressing this by adding their preferred name in quotes as part of their first name. Ex: Stephanie “Steph”. This creates an issue when copying information for billing purposes under the insurance. We’ve found that insurance companies will not accept the preferred name in quotes as everything needs to exactly match up.

I wanted to know how others may have addressed this issue, and if it is a field that can be added on the Who tab. This will minimize human error in removing anything from the billing/insurance information while being sensitive to the individuals preference.

Since the demographics are an LBF, I feel I could add a field but am hesitant for unknow repercussions to other areas of the database.

@dmnlbh navigate into the Admin → Forms → Layout and select the demographics layout and add the new field inside the who section of demographics form. Given the new field name as Nickname and then save the layout then you can add the Nickname data into demographics


Hi Dava-
You have the right idea re: adding a field to demographics, but there’s no need to add a new one: the demographics layout Nilesh directed you to has ‘user defined’ text areas in all the tabs, that can be customized to contain any piece of static information you want. In the ‘Who’ tab you see these (oval in the pic below). Some have a label ‘User Defined’, some have no label (but you can add one if you wanna!), but they all have an ID. The label is the user-readable text that displays on the demographics screen; the ID is the name of that field’s location in the OpenEMR database.

If the ‘UOR’ dropdown is on ‘unused’ as in the pic the field will not appear on the demographics form. Select ‘optional’ or ‘required’ and it will but note that ‘Required’ makes it necessary for that field to have something in it before you can save the display, so use it carefully.

You can change the label of these user defined fields to whatever text you want (e.g., ‘Preferred Name’), and they can be moved around to be placed where you want it in the display in the usual fashion in editing LBFs; see the wiki docs on that. However, don’t change the ID! These user defined fields may be added to the Patient Finder, and the ID is how the finder locates them in the database.

For how to do that see:

Hope that helps.
Best- Harley


Thanks Nilesh and Harley!

I would want the preferred name to show in the header area to denote the name we should call them by. I made the addition and it doesn’t denote the preferred name in the header. Is there a way to include that there as well?


What is the process for submitting this as a potential development issue for future updates? With clients in the midst of a transition between genders as one example, getting a person’s preferred name right is crucial. It would be ideal if a person’s preferred name could be listed in quotes to the right of their name in the header/patient panel.

Hi Dava-
Right, the code that builds the header only uses their real first/ last name, not a user defined field that may be created. That could be customized in your particular OpenEMR if desired.

  • HT

This sounds reasonable and I’ll check with one of my admin partner for a universal recommendation as he travels many EHR’s.
If not too involved I may be able to get this in patch 2 coming in a couple weeks.

edit; I’m thinking if nickname is populated it should also appear in header.

We’re potentially looking to updated our version to branch 701, so we are trying to determine if we should wait for this “preferred name” to be updated in patch 2. Just wanted to see how realistic it is for this to be included in the next patch and how long it will take.

@dmnlbh I’ll add at least an input for preferred/nickname and possibly append to patient name in dashboard header in the next day or two so I hope to have for patch 2.
I’ll update this thread once I put PR up.

Jerry, I wanted to see if you were able to include this update for the patch. We’re looking to update, and I want to make sure that the Nickname is included!


64 character Preferred Name should do it!

You’re awesome! Thanks so much for taking care of that!!!