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Electronic Medical Records Versus Electronic Health Records


electronic medical records vs EHRWhile it may seem that the phrases “Electronic Medical Records” and “Electronic Health Records” can be used interchangeably, there are distinct differences that set these apart. In a January 2011 article for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Peter Garrett and Joshua Seidman penned “EMR vs EHR – What is the Difference?”

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

This term was created for dealing primarily with issues or information that is directed at diagnosis and treatment. The article defined an EMR as a “digital version of the paper charts in the clinician’s office. An EMR contains the medical and treatment history of the patients in one practice.” The article also listed four key advantages:

  • Track data over time;
  • Easily identify which patients are due for preventive screenings or checkups;
  • Check how their patients are doing on certain parameters; and
  • Monitor and improve overall quality of care within the practice.

However, these typically stay within the medical practice and, when needed, are simply printed out and mailed to others.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Unlike Electronic Medical Records, EHRs relate more to a general term in which involves a general condition or freedom from pain or a physical disease. This gives it a more comprehensive approach to the information that is included in these records. Like EMRs, EHRs offer all those same advantages but go many steps beyond just data collection.

As the article noted, “EHRs are designed to reach out beyond the health organization that originally collects and compiles the information. They are built to share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care.” The information then can be transferred from a physician to a specialist to a hospital and onto a nursing home within a state or across the country. The information can be accessed by all types of people who are involved in a patient’s care, including the patient themselves and their loved ones. This is thought to be very beneficial as the article further explains:

“Because when information is shared in a secure way, it becomes more powerful. Health care is a team effort, and shared information supports that effort. After all, much of the value derived from the health care delivery system results from the effective communication of information from one party to another and, ultimately, the ability of multiple parties to engage in interactive communication of information.”

Having this type of benefit illustrates why more within the medical industry are focusing on the concept of Electronic Health Records as a way to share and disseminate information to improve the quality of health care.

In Summary

Here are the main points from this blog post:

  • There are definite differences between Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records.
  • EMRs can track data, identify patients who need checkups, follow-up on patient status and improve the quality of care, but the records tend to stay within the practice.
  • EHRs are more collaborative and share the information with all involved in the patient’s care, making this a more powerful means of improving the quality of care received.


fig gungor

Fig Gungor is CEO of OneSource Document Management, a New York based company that offers a broad range of customized copy and scanning services that translate into a significant savings for insurance companies, hospitals and large medical facilities.


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