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The Difference Between Electronic Medical and Health Records

Do you know the difference between EMR and EHR?

If your practice is trying to decide whether to use an EMR or EHR system, it's important to know about these differences and to understand how an EHR system can be more beneficial to your practice.

As a healthcare provider – whether you work at a doctor's office, medical/critical care clinic, hospital, or any other type of care facility – you have to deal with mountains of paperwork, from insurance forms to patient records. You also know the value of technology platforms such as electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR). Both are valuable tools in managing patient information. However, although many staff members use the terms interchangeably, they're not the same thing. Here are the differences between the two and what you need to know about each technology.

EMR: The Basics

An EMR is the digital version of a paper medical chart. It should include your patients' medical histories, medications they're taking, allergies, immunizations, and existing diagnoses. Doctors can access an EMR to instantly monitor health data, such as blood pressure readings. An EMR, however, is only for use within the practice that the patient regularly goes to. The information can't be shared from one practice to another unless the patient gets a printed copy.

EHR: The Basics

An EHR typically has all the same information as an EMR, plus additional data such as lab results, radiology reports, and notes on how a patient progresses. As opposed to an EMR, however, an EHR can easily be shared, via computer, across medical practices, which is especially beneficial for patients who have several doctors and specialists on their healthcare team.

Here's how an EHR can be more valuable than an EMR: If someone is in a car accident, his or her information can be immediately accessed and updated by the emergency room doctor, radiologist and anyone else on the medical team – without anyone having to request a special print-out from the patient's primary care physician.

Why EHRs Are More Common Than EMRs

EHRs are preferred over EMRs for several reasons:

  • They provide a more-comprehensive look at the patient's medical history and include important additional information such as lab and test results and progress reports.
  • They can be immediately shared by multiple members of a patient's healthcare team and can also be easily accessed by patients themselves. This way, if a patient switches doctors, it's not necessary to obtain copies of new records.

EMRs and EHRs aren't the same, even though many people, including medical office staff members, aren't sure what the differences are. If your practice is trying to decide whether to use an EMR or EHR system, it's important to know about these differences and to understand how an EHR system can be more beneficial to your practice.

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Topics: Healthcare Solutions Document Management