EMR and EHR are two common health information technology terms. Many healthcare organizations use the terms interchangeably. However, EHR and EMR technically refer to different medical software systems that handle a patient’s medical information.
Before we examine the differences between EHR vs. EMR, it is important to understand each software solution and how it fits into the health care delivery system. Health care providers and medical practices will benefit from a detailed understanding of EHR and EMR.
This post will help your healthcare organization understand the details and differences between EMR and EHR software.
EHR, EMR, and a Patient’s Medical Information
Healthcare providers use EMR and EHR for digitizing patient data. Yet, even though these software solutions both deal with a patient’s medical history, they function in different ways.
What Is EMR?
EMR stands for electronic medical records. An EMR is a digital version of a patient’s chart and medical records. Healthcare providers that utilize an electronic medical record (EMR) system can see all of a patient’s information in one unified place.
Electronic medical records are quickly replacing paper records because they are easier to access and keep track of, sync with remote monitoring systems, and effectively eliminate care gaps by tracking which patients need appointments, medication refills, lab tests, etc.
Like traditional paper records, electronic medical records are not meant to be shared with other health care providers outside of the practice.
What Is EHR?
EHR stands for electronic health records. You are wrong if you believe the difference between electronic health records and electronic medical records is merely semantic. EHR systems do everything EMR software does and more.
In addition to advanced patient care records, EHR enables people outside the practice to access patient records, including patients themselves. As a result, electronic health records lead to improved care since patient data is more visible.
Most people see multiple different healthcare providers. In addition, health is not a siloed experience. Our bodies are composed of complex interdependent systems. By making it easier to share a patient’s medical history, healthcare providers can improve a patient’s medical care.
EHR Vs. EMR: Exploring the Differences
While there is certainly overlap between EMR and EHR solutions, there are important differences that your practice should understand before choosing one solution over another. The key areas of difference between EHR and EMR are:
- Patient information
- Additional tools
- Patient access
How EHR and EMR store a patient’s record differs. EMR digitizes patient charts, while EHR is a comprehensive digital record of a patient’s health information.
Patient charts do not necessarily offer a practitioner a complete overview of a patient’s medical history. Therefore, an electronic health record is meant to be more comprehensive than a patient chart.
A patient’s care so often relies on good information. Therefore, it is vital to understand how the health information contained in EHR and EMR software varies.
Clinical data in EMR software is not meant to be shared easily, while EHR solutions promote data sharing to improve patient care. Remember, EMR is essentially just a digital patient chart. Patient charts are not typically shared between practices.
EHR includes patient chart data, but it is also more comprehensive and is designed to be shared so different providers can get on the same page and provide more comprehensive care for patients.
Sharing data is vital to people who see multiple providers, take medications, and get testing. Even if one doctor didn’t order a test, they could see the results of past testing and plan treatments accordingly.
EMR software only offers digital charts; however, EHR solutions offer more comprehensive tools. In addition to digital charts, EHR can include medication tracking and prescription features, telehealth services, lab testing, and more.
For example, EHR offers medication tracking features. As a result, not only can all providers see what medications a patient is currently prescribed, but the EHR system will alert the prescriber if they send in a prescription that interacts negatively with other medications currently prescribed.
Comprehensive tools like this ensure that patients receive the best possible care and that providers work harmoniously.
EMR is not designed to be accessed by patients, while EHR solutions offer patient portals. When patients can access their health information, they can play a greater role in their health care.
In addition, this enables a patient to move their health data with them if they change primary care providers or move to a new state or city.
While EMR and EHR solutions both provide value to medical practices, EHR systems have gotten more popular due to the additional tools and greater integration capabilities they offer. Health care is changing, and patients and providers need greater access to patient data.