The Difference Between EHR and EMR

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“EMR” and “EHR” are terms that refer to two separate methods of recording patient data. However, the terms have become widely synonymous, and can cause confusion amongst patients. “EMR” stands for “electronic medical record” and “EHR” stands for “electronic health record”.  Upon first glance, it may sound as though the two terms could be used in the same context.  However, there are actually significant differences between the two that are important to note.

What is an Electronic Medical Record (EMR)?

The definition of an Electronic Medical Record is “an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one healthcare organization” [1]Patient notes on EMRs are often taken from paper charts that physicians, nurses, dentists or specialists have used to record information, such as allergies, immunization dates, and medications. The EMR contains a patient’s total medical history generated by one specific practice, and it is generally used by a single healthcare provider for diagnoses or treatments.

What is an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?

An Electronic Health Record is an “electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting” [2]. An EHR contains health records from several healthcare sources, to generate a broader, more detailed view of the patient’s health history. Examples of data on this type of record includes progress reports, lab and test results, and vital signs. The EHR record travels with the patient when they move from place to place, and more data can be added from different healthcare providers that have access to the EHR. They are real-time records that make a patient’s health information available instantly to authorized users, which in turn betters their care.

Advantages of EMRs

Advantage of EMRs include the ability to help track a patient’s data over time. By inputting real-time digital updates when new information is taken from a patient, data can be more easily monitored and kept up to date. This can be beneficial in helping to assess a patient’s health trends, such as blood pressure readings. It is also helpful to get things moving faster for the patient, helping them to get more accurate care.

EMRs can also help to enhance patient experience, for example by identifying when patients are due for check-ups, periodic screenings, or medication renewals.  Providers such as 1st Providers Choice offer EMR solutions for hospitals, surgery centers, and private practices that include these scheduling features.  These types of features help to automate processes that traditionally require frequent manual checking, which can enhance the productivity of your practice.

Advantages of EHRs

EHRs are designed to be shared between providers, therefore this type of health record can give a more detailed picture of the patient’s medical history.  There are many advantages of EHRs, including safer, more reliable prescribing, and interfaces with, for example, labs, and registries, for real-time access to information.

EHRs can help with time-saving, and enhanced decision support by giving quick access to patient’s records anywhere, at any time.  Healthcare organizations can be greatly assisted by having instant access to results, leading to more accurate diagnosis and helping in the patient’s treatment.

Benefits of Digitization of Patient Records

Both EMRs and EHRs are beneficial to patients as digitized records leave a smaller margin for mistakes.  They eliminate errors caused by sometimes difficult-to-read, handwritten patient charts.  Each system’s ability to automate once manual tasks is also crucial to any medical practice.  Daily tasks that were once laborious and time consuming now take less time and allow you to have more one-on-one time with your patients, which gives more value to your practice.  The ability to share patient information and speed up search times helps with rapid recall of records and required information that gives important time back to your practice.

The Importance of Differentiation Between EMRs and EHRs

It is important to differentiate between EMRs and EHRs as they utilize different data sources; making the main distinction record access.  Depending on the system in discussion, different healthcare providers may have access to EMRs and others to EHRs.

There is no doubt that the digitized records of both EMRs and EHRs help to communicate important patient information through systems that are private, secure, and confidential.  If you are interested in having your own  Contact 1st Providers Choice online or by phone at 480-782-1116.