As healthcare evolves and improves with technology, both patients and care providers look for better ways to prevent and diagnose illness, and to identify and reduce health risks. Maintaining and reviewing health records is the way to accomplish this, but paper records are the method of the past. Electronic records have a foot planted firmly in the present and are becoming the future.

Which Offers Better Patient Value, EMR or EHR?

Electronic record software comes in two main types, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided incentive funds to stimulate the adoption of these software systems by hospitals and physicians. The acronyms EMR and EHR are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two software services. According to the National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT), EMR and EHR are defined as follows:

  • EMR: The electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created, gathered, managed, and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff from a single organization who are involved in the individual’s health and care.
  • EHR: The aggregate electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created and gathered cumulatively across more than one health care organization and is managed and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff involved in the individual’s health and care.

The key functional difference between the two is the EHR provides a more comprehensive scope of a patient’s medical history, by pulling data from additional electronic health systems, creating long-term and aggregate health information. This allows doctors, hospitals, and clinical decision makers to anticipate health maintenance requirements. On the other hand, EMR software keeps records of a single diagnosis or treatment, essentially a replacement for paper charts and records, and is more likely to be used by a specialist.

Why Haven’t I Heard of EHR?

With most EHR software, the patient can log onto their record and review their personal health information, which is a cultural change for most patients. EHR is the industry standard, but the market term for the electronic record industry is EMR. Analyzing Google Trends data shows far more searches for “electronic medical record” are performed than “electronic health record”, but the gap is slowly closing.

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