EMR vs. EHR – What is the Difference?

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Users often ask us if they should implement an EMR or an EHR. Do you know the difference? Is there a difference?

drchrono is an all purpose EHR, but some people use the terms “electronic medical record” (“EMR”) and “electronic health record” (“EHR”) interchangeably. While it may seem trivial, the difference is quite significant. The National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT) with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), have established definitions for EMR and EHR.

Electronic Medical records (EMRs) are a digital version of the paper charts in a clinician’s office. EMRs are created, gathered, managed and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff from a single organization who are involved in the patient’s health and care.

For example, EMRs allow clinicians to:

  • Improve data tracking.
  • Identify which patients are due for preventive screenings or checkups.
  • Manage patient parameters (blood pressure, readings, vaccinations).
  • Monitor and improve overall quality of care within the practice.

However, this data isn’t easily shared outside the practice with the rest of the individual’s care team. It may have to be converted back to paper to share with specialists or patients.

Electronic Health records (EHRs), like drchrono, do all the things an EMR does and more. It focuses on the comprehensive health of the patient – going beyond standard clinical data collected in the provider’s office and focuses on a broader view on a patient’s care. It is managed and consulted across more than one healthcare organization and is managed and consulted by licensed clinicians involved in the patient’s healthcare.

With EHRs (including drchrono):

  • The data gathered by the primary care provider provides the emergency department clinician about the patient’s allergy, so that care can be adjusted appropriately.
  • Recently run lab results are already in the record to tell the specialist what she or he needs to know without running duplicate tests.
  • Clinician’s notes from the patient’s hospital stay can aid follow-up care and enable the patient to move from one care setting to another more smoothly.

The ability for everyone involved in a patient’s care – including the patient – to have access to crucial information delivers a higher standard of care.

So, the difference between “electronic medical records” and “electronic health records” is just one word, but that one word makes a great difference.

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