EMR vs EHR- What is the difference?
BY: Angie Balman
EMR – Electronic medical record
EHR – Electronic health record
^Some people believe these are the same thing and use them interchangeably.
This is not the case. EMR’s came before EHR’s and were used by clinicians for diagnosis and treatment and they were indeed “medical” as the name implies. EHR is the term used now (almost exclusively) by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC).
But why the change? Well, “health” refers to “the condition of being sound in mind, or spirit; especially… freedom from physical disease or pain…the general condition of the body.” The world “health” encompasses more than the word “medical.” Therefore, EHR’s are a better source of information as they go a lot further than EMR’s.
1) Track data over time
2) Easily identify which patients are due for preventive screenings or check-ups
3) Check how patients are doing in regards to certain parameters (e.g. blood pressure, readings, or vaccinations)
4) Monitor and improve overall quality of care within the practice
*Note: While EMR’s are more advantageous than paper records, they don’t easily travel out of the clinicians practice and may have to be printed out and delivered by mail to other specialists. In this regard, they are not much better than paper records.
EHR’s – A better alternative! Fully functioning EHR’s allow all members of a team the ability to readily access the latest information, allowing for more coordinated, patient-centered care.
1) The information gathered by the primary care provider will inform the emergency department clinician of the patient’s life threatening allergies or other pertinent information. This can be incredibly useful as care can be adjusted appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
2) Patients are able to log their own records and see the trend of his lab results over the last year. This may help motivate him to be more consistent in taking his medication and keeping up with lifestyle changes suggested to help improve his results.
3) Lab results run prior are already in the record. This provides the specialist with the information she needs without running duplicate tests.
4) Clinician notes from a patients hospital stay can help with discharge instructions and follow-up care as well (enabling a patient from one care setting to another more smoothly is one example)
Health care is a team effort! When information is shared in a secure way, it becomes more powerful. EHR’s promote effective communication of information from one party to another so, ultimately; multiple parties have the ability to engage in the interactive communication of information regarding their patients.
One word, while seemingly small can make a world of difference. Educate yourself!