OpenEMR Achieves ONC 2015 Cures Update Certification with Groundbreaking Release 7.0
The ONC 2015 Certification was the result of a coordinated, community effort that spanned several years. There were more than forty direct contributors to this monumental effort which included Arnab Naha, Brady Miller, Brent Boecking, Care Management Solutions, Columbia University HIT Program, Comlink, Community Behavioral Health, David Eschelbacher, David Zhang, EMR Direct, Jerry Padgett, Jocelyn Valenzuela, Katy Dovgala, Ken Chapple, Kenn Vincent Kongyingyong, Kenneth Newman, Lawrence Lo, Mariam Mohsin, Michael J. Blaho, Niru Jani, Oak Street Health, OpenEMR Foundation, Paul Montenegro, Rachel Ellison, Salina Chan, Samta Jain, Sandra Gutierrez, Sherron Andrews, Stephen Nielson, Stephen Waite, Sushma Jani, Tamara Brantley, Theresa Haywood, Thuyet Tran, Tiffany Fludd, Vikram Reddy, Virginia Lorenzi, Vishnu Yarmaneni, Willy Liu, and Yash Raj Bothra.
To support this endeavor, the OpenEMR Foundation fundraised $115,000. The community wishes to specifically acknowledge the major sponsors who were all critical to funding this work and included Care Management Solutions, Community Behavioral Health, Dr. Niru Jani, Dr. Sushma Jani, Michael J. Blaho, Brent Boecking, Comlink and Oak Street Health. In addition to the amount fundraised, an additional $120,000 of code development effort was contributed by a group of expert OpenEMR professional developers, which included Stephen Nielson, Jerry Padgett, Stephen Waite and Ken Chapple.
The sheer number of new features and enhancements brought into OpenEMR to support certification were expansive and included support for interoperability, standardization of patient medical information, coordination of care, patient privacy, patient engagement, security, automated calculations of metrics and clinical quality measures.
The interoperability enhancements required for certification included support for FHIR, SMART on FHIR, REST API, OAuth2, and the Direct Project. "We are so excited to see the many ways that FHIR is going to impact the OpenEMR community. By integrating FHIR into OpenEMR, developers and users are able to tap into a growing ecosystem of healthcare applications that are able to provide needed solutions that are not currently available in OpenEMR. We have already seen several of our OpenEMR community developers as well as users jump into using FHIR. They have utilized FHIR to both integrate OpenEMR with other FHIR compatible systems as well as enhance their own OpenEMR installations. As ONC and other standards bodies continue to push the entire medical community forward with greater interoperability, better patient access, and more versatile solutions, we envision deeper and broader usage of our FHIR apis. We know this is only the beginning as there is so much more we can build upon. We envision this is the start of a new frontier for the OpenEMR community and we look forward to seeing the OpenEMR pioneers who will leverage FHIR in new and innovative ways," said Stephen Nielson, Lead OpenEMR FHIR Developer.
A usability study of OpenEMR was also a requirement for certification. The purpose of this study was to test and validate the usability of OpenEMR's user interface and involved measurements of effectiveness, efficiency, task success, task time and user satisfaction. The usability study was designed and conducted by the 2022 Cohort of the Professional Certificate in Health Information Technology Program at Columbia University. The study was a real world educational assignment for the Columbia University HIT program and was an extensive endeavor that involved meticulous test planning that was then followed by in depth surveys, testing and collection of performance data of 11 healthcare personnel using OpenEMR. The Columbia University HIT program's real world project was successful and their reported findings both fulfilled certification requirements and provided feedback to improve OpenEMR's user experience. The OpenEMR community is very grateful to each student in the Columbia University HIT program. "Collaborating with OpenEMR was an outstanding informational opportunity. Students used existing usability methods to conduct testing and delivered impactful results which OpenEMR can use in significant ways. Each student positively shaped the user experience to further enhance the capabilities of OpenEMR," said the report author, Mariam Mohsin. The Columbia University HIT program usability study report is available to view online.
The OpenEMR 7.0 release also boasts new features and improvements unrelated to certification, which include a new Social Screening form, new support for USPS Address Verification, and improvements in patient portal, patient dashboard, billing, fee sheet, and security.
The new Social Screening form was designed by Char Miller, a recent Master of Public Health graduate from Simmons University. As part of Char's Master of Public Health curriculum, she collaborated with the OpenEMR community to implement a tool that measures Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). SDOH are broken down into the following five categories: economic stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social community and context. SDOH are considered predictors of health outcomes and causes of health inequities. The new Social Screening form in OpenEMR is streamlined for both providers and patients to capture SDOH measurements over time. "The ability to screen for and capture Social Determinants of Health in a free and open-source EMR will assist in addressing health inequities that exist in our most vulnerable populations. In the next year this SDOH data will be combined with standardized FHIR compliant codes that will enable interoperability among providers, public health, and community organizations."
Sphere payment processing continues to be supported in OpenEMR 7.0. The OpenEMR Foundation continues to partner with Sphere to offer a full featured payment processing option in OpenEMR. This feature supports payments in-clinic (via a card reader with input pad) and patient portal, void/credit of payments, and reporting. "We designed this payment processing module to fully integrate with OpenEMR and make it as easy as possible for users to set it up and start collecting payments," said the module author and OpenEMR project co-administrator, Brady Miller. Sign up and configuration details can be found at the Sphere Payment Processing Module page on OpenEMR's website.
The OpenEMR community remains committed to continued support and improvement of the OpenEMR product. The use of OpenEMR continues to grow at a very fast pace, which continues to increase the need for more professional developers and vendors. The OpenEMR community recently started a developer lecture series to facilitate an environment that fosters the growth of professional OpenEMR developers and vendors. These lectures are recorded and can be viewed at https://www.open-
"The OpenEMR community is very proud to release a bona fide open source product that is ONC 2015 Cures Update certified. The open source nature of OpenEMR thrives in the current health IT environment due to its cost-effectiveness, transparency, interoperability, customizability and flexibility. This is an opportunity for clinics to install or improve their EHR implementation and the bona fide open-source nature of OpenEMR provides an ideal solution for these clinics by providing a customizable and cost-effective EHR that can successfully endure and grow over the long term for clinics. This opportunity spans all clinical settings and is especially vital for those clinics that were left behind by meaningful use in addition to clinical settings all over the world that can now leverage all the features required for ONC 2015 certification,"
OpenEMR 7.0 can be downloaded at OpenEMR's download page. The ONC 2015 Certification Transparency and Disclosure Requirements for OpenEMR can be viewed online.
OpenEMR is an electronic health record (EHR) system that was originally developed in 2002 by physicians to help them run their practices. As an open-source project, it is maintained and supported by a vibrant community of volunteers and professionals that includes several hundred contributors and is supported by more than 40 companies. OpenEMR is recognized as the most popular open-source electronic health records and medical practice management solution in the world. OpenEMR is downloaded more than 2,500 times per month, and it is estimated that it is used by more than 100,000 medical providers serving more than 200 million patients. OpenEMR has been translated into 36 languages and is used by facilities in more than 100 countries across the globe. Open-source software has changed the world for the better, and OpenEMR is a leader in open-source healthcare software. For more information please visit https://www.open-
About OpenEMR Foundation
The OpenEMR Foundation, Inc. is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization that exists to support the OpenEMR project with a vision to ensure that all people, regardless of race, socioeconomic status or geographic location, have access to high-quality medical care through the donation of free, open source medical software and service relating to that software. For more information please visit https://www.open-