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Before trying to select an EHR/EMR product, it is important to educate yourself on the terminology and technology you will be using. The base premise of these products is to be paperless, and to share health information between providers to help create better decision making for patient care.


What’s the Difference Between an EHR vs. an EMR?


Electronic medical records (EMRs) are electronic records of health-related information on an individual that is created, gathered, managed, and consulted by a provider and staff from a single practice who are involved in the individual’s health. An EMR contains the medical and treatment history of the patients in one practice.


Electronic health records (EHRs) are the collected electronic records of health-related information on an individual, which is created and gathered across more than one health care organization. EHRs are built to share information with other health care providers, so they contain information from all the providers involved in the patient’s care.


When information is shared in a secure way, it becomes more powerful. Much of the value from the health care delivery system results from the effective communication from one party to another and, the ability of multiple parties to engage in the patient’s care seamlessly.


Who Needs Which?


An EHR will help a provider who needs to know a patient’s health and history. Having a patient’s history, will provide better care, and optimize better decision making.


An EMR is most likely to be used by a specialist. If your responsibility is taking care of one unique symptom, then a stand-alone EMR will do. Certain specialists may not need information about patient history as much as they need specialty-specific workflows and templates.


Benefits of an EHR


With fully functional EHRs, providers and staff have access to the latest information, allowing for better patient care. With EHRs:


  • Providers can relay emergency information so that care can be adjusted appropriately

  • A patient can log on to their portal to see their record, among other various options

  • The lab results import directly and this helps avoid duplicate testing

  • Medical notes can be easily sent to other providers for smoother care and transitions


Although both terms are used interchangeably, the one word in each term sets a different meaning for each. “Medical” is for a sole practice while “Health” is shared information on a collective level. Changes in the health care industry may eventually change the way these two electronic records are used in the future.

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