OpenMRS Community Launches Major Upgrade to its Open Source EHR Platform

Mayank SharmaThe OpenMRS Community has released a major upgrade to to its widely deployed open source EHR, OpenMRS. The result of the work of more than 100 OpenMRS Community Members from around the world the OpenMRS Platform 2.0 release is the first release of the 2.x family and takes a quantum leap in its base technology as it incorporates the latest web technologies and standards into its modular architecture. At the same time, OpenMRS retains the capability of supporting many legacy features.

OpenMRS is an open source health information technology (health IT) medical record system platform, designed by a global community to facilitate better healthcare delivery. Initially designed to support HIV clinics in Kenya and Rwanda, OpenMRS has grown dramatically in the last decade and is used in both research and clinical settings. It is currently deployed in over 40 countries and has been translated into even more languages. More than 12 countries are currently implementing OpenMRS as their national health information technology system; major health systems in more than 20 other countries are also utilizing OpenMRS as their health IT system.

The OpenMRS Platform is based upon a conceptual, structured, and standardized database that can be extended for different clinical, administrative, and research uses. OpenMRS has created a common platform that supports health informatics efforts in low and middle income countries to meet their health IT needs. OpenMRS promotes information stored in a structured manner, making it easier to reuse, summarize, and analyze data as well as evaluate outcomes.

OpenMRS has a core concept dictionary that defines all diagnoses, tests, procedures, drugs, and other general questions and potential answers. OpenMRS was developed as a modular client-server application designed to work in environments where many client computers access the same information on a server. The new release of OpenMRS helps facilitate cloud-based deployment. Recently, OpenMRS was deployed as a cloud-based solution in Laos by Mekom, an OpenMRS service provider.

OpenMRS 2015 Summit meet discussion session. Credit-Mayank SharmaKey elements in platform 2.0 include:

  • OpenMRS Platform 2.0 ships with 201 bug fixes and 65 new features. Platform 2.0 release includes significant upgrades to the tech stack, including Java 8, Hibernate 4.x, and Spring 4.x., as well as removing deprecated code from over the last ten years.
  • Platform 2.0 also includes support for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the up and coming HL7 standard that is winning widespread adoption across the world. The OpenMRS FHIR API enables users to adopt OpenMRS with minimal learning effort. It offers implementers the opportunity to integrate OpenMRS with many other medical systems and applications, and stay abreast with latest advances in the healthcare industry.
  • The new platform release also supports Open Web Apps (OWA) which allows developers to create and package new functionality using contemporary development tools like HTML5 and AngularJS. OWA allows users to create custom UI using OpenMRS Web services.
  • The platform now includes core support for additional clinical functions including allergies and  medication & lab orders.
  • Platform 2.0 builds on REST web services. REST is a great step that provides an interface that is "language agnostic," meaning that any other system in a healthcare enterprise can talk to OpenMRS via this interface without having to write Java code; developers do not need to know much about the internals of OpenMRS code. REST interfaces are heavily used in many industries and are gaining traction in healthcare as well (such as  FHIR, for example, and DICOM web services, which are the defacto standard for storage & communication in imaging).


OpenMRS includes an electronic medical record system platform and a reference application that supports the design of a customized medical records system. There are several layers to the system, and the OpenMRS Platform includes:

  • A comprehensive data model that borrows heavily from the Regenstrief model, which has over a 30-year history of proven scalability and is based on a concept dictionary that has been expanded over the years.
  • A role-based authentication control (RBAC) system for authentication and authorization.
  • A module framework for extending core functionality to meet implementation-specific needs.
  • Application programming interfaces (API's) that provide a programmatic “wrapper” around the data model, allowing any developer to program against more simplified method calls rather than having to understand the intricacies of the data model.

Reference Application

The OpenMRS Reference Application is a web application built upon the Platform and provides basic medical record system functionality within a graphical user interface.. The Reference Application allows the end user and the health care team to view patient data at the point of care. In addition, the Reference Application facilitates direct input of clinical data (for instance, vitals, allergies, purpose of visit, lab data, etc.) during the clinical visit.

OpenMRS 2015 Summit Participants. Credit-OpenMRS

The OpenMRS Community

The OpenMRS community is a worldwide network of volunteers from many different backgrounds and skills including technology, healthcare, and international development that includes clinicians, informaticians, developers, quality assurance testers, implementers, and more. Together, we're working to build the world's most widely-used and flexible medical record system platform to support delivery of health care in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.

We are extremely proud of the volunteer contributors who routinely contribute their innovations on the OpenMRS stack, helping OpenMRS implementations improve healthcare worldwide. Over 100 OpenMRS volunteers engaged in the requirements, development, quality assurance, and release process of this new Platform over the past year.

OpenMRS Implementers Meeting 2016 in Uganda (#OMRS16)

The release of OpenMRS Platform 2.0 sets the stage for the next OpenMRS Implementers Meeting, scheduled to take place December 6-11, 2016, at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala, Uganda. This international meeting is hosted by the Uganda OpenMRS community. The theme of this meeting is “Better Patient Outcomes: Innovating and strengthening systems.” 

The meeting will serve both as an OpenMRS community meeting as well as a venue for demonstrating Uganda’s significant investment in OpenMRS. There will be a wide range of sessions to address core technology issues as well as the needs of both developers and implementers. In addition, the conference will provide sessions to discuss the operational and programmatic needs of the OpenMRS community. Please refer to the OpenMRS web site for further information about the upcoming meeting.


OpenMRS has developed a guide for module developers to facilitate the migration of different modules to Platform 2.0. You can download Platform 2.0 at Further information is available in the Release Notes.

We would love to hear about your experience using Platform 2.0. Please do share your feedback, suggestions, and comments on OpenMRS Talk at

We look forward to your ongoing participation and involvement with the OpenMRS community. Write code. Save lives.