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What Is The Difference Between An Electronic Medical Record And An Electronic Health Record?

A patient's personal health record is one of the most important pieces of medical information that any medical practice or clinician can have. However, no patient record is alike - and something that one health care provider may need isn't something other authorized clinicians can provide.

So what is the difference between an electronic medical record and an electronic health record? While both are an example of an electronic record that can be accessed via a patient portal, an EMR is simply a digital version of a patient's chart. An EHR is a more developed version of a patient chart, and usually contains the patient's medical history and other tangential information about the patient's health.

How To Tell The Difference Between EHR and EMR

As a healthcare provider, knowing the difference between EHR and EMR is crucial for not only improving patient engagement but can also help make medical records more accessible to your physician network. While most people use these terms interchangeably, there’s actually a significant difference between the two.

Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

An electronic medical record is the digital version of a patient’s paper chart. They contain all of the patient data from one patient in one specific practice, and usually only have the essential bits of medical formation that are pertinent to the treatment of the patient.

Using an EMR system or EMR software is extremely useful to practice since it provides them a safe yet accessible repository of crucial patient data. Paper records, while common and still useful, are vulnerable to being damaged, lost, or otherwise tampered with. EMRs can be easily shared within a practice’s local network, even to auxiliary staff that may not always have the paper records on hand.

The crucial difference an EMR has from an EHR is that EMRs typically are not released from the practice that created them. Since the EMR only contains the information required for the patient’s care in that specific clinic/hospital/practice, a physician looking for a patient’s comprehensive medical history may not find much information from it.

Aside from this limitation, EMRs are incredibly efficient at keeping track of a patient’s treatment and other immediate information required for their care. If you want a place to keep a patient’s blood pressure readings, medication, and other data necessary for their treatment in your practice, using an EMR is the best way to keep yourself updated.

Read more: What Does an Electronic Medical Record Include?

Electronic Health Record (EHR)

An electronic health record is basically an EMR but better – aside from containing all the pertinent information from one practice, EMRs contain a comprehensive overview of a patient’s medical information throughout their stay in the medical system. It’s an all-inclusive record that can keep track of a patient’s different healthcare providers, medications, and other medical procedures.

EHR system and EHR software make coordination between other healthcare practices easier, as the electronic form of the patient’s medical records allow for sharing between different healthcare professionals when the situation demands it. In cases where the patient may have a chronic condition that suddenly develops a complication and they’re not within the vicinity of their usual medical provider, EHR can provide life-saving intel at a moment’s notice.

Cloud based EHR and EMR systems are just one of the many new innovations that make patient engagement with their own medical records and healthcare data that much easier. Aside from letting your patients have the peace of mind to always have access to their own records via a patient portal, it can also guarantee them a higher standard of care no matter who their provider or attending physician is. While EHR’s are more closely guarded by regulation and other rules about the release of medical information, they’re far more flexible and comprehensive than EMRs.

If you’re ever looking for a comprehensive overview of what exactly your patient needs and want to make this information as accessible as possible, you should consider investing in an EMR system to make this process easier.

A Note About Electronic Records vs. Paper Records

Doctor is showing the medical report to her patient

One crucial thing that you should remember about keeping EMRs and EHRs compared to paper records is that your system is only as good as your practice’s integration of electronic methods of record-keeping. While most hospitals and other larger practices have integrated EMR systems and EHR systems into their existing records framework, there are still many smaller practices and independent healthcare professionals who have not.

While several factors limit widespread implementation, the one that admittedly gets in the way the most is the lack of a dedicated platform that can easily support the demands of EHR without the need for extensive training and medical expertise. Given the limited amount of time and resources a clinician or a physician has to allot to record-keeping, paper records are an immediate alternative that can be more familiar – and thus easier – to use.

So if you are looking to implement the use of an EHR or EMR system, make sure that your practice or healthcare organization is properly equipped and trained to make the transition. Admittedly, this process will differ for each medical provider, but making sure that the progress is as smooth as possible can save you a lot of trouble in the future. Anything less than full implementation of EHR and EMR systems risk misplacing patient data and overall making the keeping of medical records more difficult.

It may be difficult to immediately justify this change to your staff, but rest assured that taking the investment now will pay off significantly in the future. While it may represent some logistical hurdles in its implementation, the switching to an electronic system has always made healthcare professionals better at doing their jobs, especially if the platform and tools have been provided by a company well-versed in the needs of the healthcare industry.

Learn more: Are All Medical Records Linked?

Keeping Electronic Medical Records Safe For Every Health Care Provider

An electronic medical record and an electronic health record may have several differences, but they both contain essential health information that's crucial for patient care. A healthcare organization and healthcare professionals should always keep these distinctions in mind to prevent mishandling patient data, as their handling of medical data can affect their standing as health providers in the healthcare industry.

Calysta EMR specializes in providing a specialized EHR solution to medical professionals that can replace a paper medical record and reduce the risk of medical error when handling patient data. As an innovator in the field of health information technology, we help practices improve the services they provide for a patient's care. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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