EHR vs. EMR: Know the Difference

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The acronyms EHR and EMR are often used interchangeably, and this may be a leading reason why many people don’t fully appreciate the distinction. The concepts are actually quite different in some significant ways. In order to clarify this, we’ll define each term and explore the advantages that each method provides.

What Is an EMR?

The acronym EMR stands for electronic medical record. This is the digital version of the traditional paper medical records doctors kept and not unlike the charts that hang bedside in a hospital. The EMR contains not just the medical history of the patient but the history of treatment. It allows a doctor or other medical professional to track data over time, identify patients who require a checkup or a particular kind of screening, evaluate blood pressure and many other parameters and so forth. An EMR is generally specific to a particular practice, hospital, clinic and so forth.

What Is EHR?

The acronym EHR stands for electronic health record. An EHR can and often does contain everything that an EMR does and then some. The purpose of an EHR is to go beyond basic clinical data to a more holistic view of the patient so that medical professionals can better assess the condition of the patient and advise treatments and other care. In addition, an EHR is often intended to be consumed and updated by more than just a single clinic, for instance. For a particular patient, it may be shared by a general practice, the practice of a specialist, a laboratory, a hospital and so on and so forth.

Advantages of EMR

An EMR combines everything a particular clinician needs to know about a patient. It also allows that clinician to track the condition and treatments over time. This continues until the patient is fully treated and even beyond that if measures must be taken to avoid relapses and the like.

Advantages of EHR

An EHR is patient-focused as well but in a more dynamic way. It allows an entire team of medical professionals to track a patient22, progress, treatments and so on. The clinician who still requires a very clinic-specific view of the data has access to that if need be, but the medical professional who requires a more bird’s eye view has that as well. It also helps to avoid duplication, such as a doctor ordering a test a lab had already conducted.

The difference between EHR and EMR may seem on the surface as but a single word. They are often lumped together and discussed as a single concept. Nevertheless, there is actually a great deal of difference, and more awareness of this would arguably be of benefit to the individual as well as the system at large.

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