There are several different types of product in OpenVPMS. The reason behind this is that different classes of product need to behave differently... and so they do!

One of the basic functions of the system is creating and maintaining products. It's unlikely that everyone in the practice will have this responsibility, but for those who do -- this section is crucial.

Products are broken into three core categories in the system:

  • Merchandise
  • Services
  • Medications

You'll notice that there are some other "types" available as well. We'll discuss those further below. The system uses this type to decide what to do with various products. Some need entries into the medical records, some need treatment in inventory, etc. It is possible that when creating an item, it may not fall into the category that you found most intuitive.


Merchandise is something physical. It may be taxed, or may not be taxed -- depending on your tax rules. The key thing to note about merchandise is that inventory is relevant, where it is not relevant for services (we have an infinite supply of service).

Generally, merchandise will have unit pricing -- that is, it's price is multiplied by how many the customer has purchased. Doggie biscuits are a great example of this.


Services are products that are sold without inventory treatment. There is no supplier for these, other than people's time. These products will often have fixed pricing -- just a single price. A surgery is a great example of this product class.


Medications look similar to merchandise in that they can count inventory, however there is an impact by medications on the medical records. Any time a medication is sold, the user is able to attach usage notes, print a label, and insert that history into the patient's record.

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