EMR, which stands for Electronic Medical Record, and EHR, which stands for Electronic Health Record, are terms often used interchangeably, but they carry distinct differences. Grasping these variances is crucial when selecting a computer system for your hospital or clinic.
Electronic Medical Record (EMR):
An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) serves as a digital compilation of a patient’s medical history and clinical documentation within a single healthcare organization. It encompasses crucial information such as medical notes, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, laboratory results, and imaging reports. EMRs are predominantly utilized by healthcare providers for documenting and managing patient care within their specific practice or healthcare facility.
Electronic Health Record (EHR):
In contrast, an Electronic Health Record (EHR) represents a more expansive and comprehensive electronic record that incorporates the patient’s medical information from various healthcare providers, facilities, and organizations. EHRs are specifically designed to be shared across different healthcare settings, enabling authorized healthcare professionals to access and exchange patient information seamlessly. EHRs offer a more holistic view of a patient’s health, encompassing medical history, diagnoses, medications, allergies, immunization records, lab results, and more.
Understanding the nuances between EMRs and EHRs is fundamental for making informed decisions when it comes to selecting and implementing computer systems in healthcare settings. While EMRs are focused on the internal documentation and management of patient information within a specific organization, EHRs prioritize a broader scope, facilitating the exchange of patient data across multiple healthcare entities for a comprehensive view of a patient’s health.
|Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
|Electronic Health Record (EHR)
|Ownership & Control
|Organisation. 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.
|Episodic 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’).
|Very 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.
|Medical. 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.
|One 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.
|Only 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.
|Read-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.