The Difference Between EMRs and EHRs

The terms Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) are used interchangeably, but there are significant differences between them. Understanding these differences is critical when selecting a computer system for your hospital or clinic.

.Electronic Medical Record (EMR)Electronic Health Record (EHR)
Ownership & ControlOrganisation. The EMR is the system of record for clinical information within the organisation that procured and deployed the EMR system.Patient. The EHR ‘moves with the patient’. The patient could (in theory) move their data between different EHR systems.
FocusEpisodic care. EMRs contain past episodes and some non-episodic information (e.g., allergies and family history), but the focus is on the current episode (i.e. the focus is on ‘treating the disease’).Longitudinal care. The focus is on longer-term health outcomes and coordinated, patient-centred care (i.e., the focus is on ‘treating the patient’).
Data GranularityVery detailed. The EMR replaces paper notes and is used to record very detailed information for each episode of care.Curated and summarised. Contains a curated summary of each episode of care, limited to what is relevant to the patient’s ongoing care or long-term health.
Data TypeMedical. Information is limited to that collected and required by doctors, nurses and allied health personnel.Health. In addition to medical data, EHRs also contain information from community care, nursing homes, pharmacies, complementary and alternative care providers, and the patient.
Data SourceOne Organisation. Only staff working within the organisation can add information to the EMR.All Organisations. Anyone involved in a patient’s care can enter information into the EHR.
Provider AccessOnly providers within the organisation. EMRs are only accessed by clinicians credentialed to work within and organisation and data is usually not exposed to the Internet beyond basic ‘portals.All providers. Subject to appropriate privacy and security safeguards, all healthcare providers can access the EHR, which are designed to work over the Internet.
Patient AccessRead-Only. Organisations may give patients limited access to their EMR record through a ‘patient portal’.Full Control. Patients typically have full access to their EHR, including the ability to add and update information.
The Difference between EMR & EHR

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