If your practice is making the transition from paper-based to electronic records, you might wonder about the differences between EHR vs EMR.
Although the terms EHR and EMR are often used interchangeably, they are not actually the same thing.
In this article, we will go over EHR vs EMR differences in detail so that you can choose the best option for your medical practice.
Let’s start by explaining each term:
EHR vs EMR: Definitions
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is the digital version of patient records and charts. An EMR includes the patient’s entire treatment history within a practice.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) is the digital version of patient healthcare data. An EHR includes a comprehensive record of a patient’s overall health. It is designed to be easily shared with other healthcare practitioners, pharmacies, laboratories, emergency facilities, etc. While an EMR serves one specific medical practice, an EHR follows the patient in any medical practice they go to.
EHR vs EMR: What’s the Difference?
As we explained, both EHR and EMR consist of electronic medical and health records.
The main difference between the two are all the additional services they offer.
EMR systems have a single use-case: tracking patients' digital medical records.
An EHR system, on the other hand, comes with several other features:
- Its data can be easily shared between medical facilities.
- It contains an all-inclusive history of a patient’s health from multiple doctors and healthcare providers.
- It provides additional tools for decision-making (e.g. an online patient portal, a telemedicine option, and more).
Advantages: EHR vs EMR
Both EHR and EMR systems have plenty of benefits. Studies have shown that they significantly improve diagnostics and patient outcomes.
Additionally, it's been proven that these systems lead to improved patient satisfaction. For example, 92% of patients were happy to have the option of e-prescribing, which is specifically available using EHRs.
Considering that both EHR and EMR systems have the same core functionality (digital patient records) both offer similar advantages:
Both EHR and EMR:
- Reduce the frequency of medical errors by keeping information updated and minimizing human error. This leads to more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
- Reduce duplicate testing by storing lab results for easy access.
- Promote patient participation by making their medical records more accessible.
- Save time and space by storing all records digitally and optimizing workflow by reducing menial work.
- Track results and data over time by keeping all records in one place and making them easier to access.
- Improve preventative care by identifying patients that are due for screenings.
- Improve security and privacy of patient records, considering that paper records can be easily accessed and tampered with.
- Lower operational costs by keeping records in one place and reducing the workload of receptionists.
- Support research by documenting patient records.
In addition to these advantages, EHR has many unique benefits that EMR does not:
- Provides decision-making support by offering information management tools that help organize, interpret, and react to critical data. EHRs give information related to drug interactions, offer evidence-based guidance to help determine the best treatment options, and assist with patients’ diagnoses.
- Promotes collection of complete data by prompting the user for additional information. This supports both care management and research.
- Can be easily shared and follows the patient wherever they go (e.g. to another practice, specialist, hospital, or nursing home). Anyone involved in the patient’s care, including the patient, can access their EHR. This makes it easier to receive and store results from external laboratories.
- Gives a more complete picture of a patient’s health history by collecting and compiling information from other healthcare providers, laboratories, and specialists. EHR can store more information than a paper chart.
- Provides ease of communication by keeping you securely and constantly connected with patients, medical assistants, labs, imaging centers, other healthcare providers, and more.
- Provides patient support through a patient portal. Patients can use the portal to check their lab results, prescriptions, treatment status, appointments, and more.
- Improves reporting. Practitioners can easily generate reports based on EHR data and make more educated decisions.
- Allows e-prescribing. Doctors can issue prescriptions remotely, without the patient having to physically visit the clinic. Some of the benefits are satisfied patients, improved patient care (e.g. sick patients don't have to go to the clinic to get a prescription), and more.
- Provides vital information during an emergency by making the patient’s entire medical history and health records available to doctors in the emergency room.
Disadvantages: EHR vs EMR
Although both EHR and EMR have plenty of advantages, they do come with some drawbacks as well.
Here’s a list of disadvantages (along with some suggestions) to help you come to a decision:
Both EHR and EMR:
- Can be expensive to implement because they require proper hardware, training, and support in addition to the software. However, after the initial expenses, these systems lower overall operational costs, thus being more economical in the long term.
- Can malfunction, which can lead to system downtime, data loss, and the sorts. To avoid this, it’s important to pick a reputable EHR system provider.
- Could be susceptible to a data breach if appropriate security measures are not in place.
Along with unique advantages, EHR also comes with its challenges:
- Can have a long and complicated implementation process. After it is up and running, however, it will help you deliver faster, more accurate, and more personalized treatment to your patients.
- Can make the doctor-patient relation more impersonal as the doctor may spend more time entering data online.
*For a more in-depth look into these potential problems and how to deal with them, check out our list of EHR software pros and cons! *
What Does Your Practice Need?
Whether you choose an EHR or an EMR system, one thing is clear: you need to be using medical software in 2021!
Paper records are antiquated and, quite frankly, just not as efficient as electronic records. In fact, 83% of doctors in the US are already using EHRs.
So, the real question is: do you need an EHR or EMR system?
For most medical practices, we recommend EHR. One of the biggest reasons is because it is easy to share an EHR and allow other healthcare providers access to the system. This can be especially helpful when you use external laboratories and imaging centers or partner with specialists from other practices.
In addition, EHR systems also come with over a dozen other impactful features such as:
- Patient portal
- Decision-making tools
- Reports and analytics
If your healthcare practice doesn’t require any of those features, however, an EMR can be a suitable alternative to EHR. It provides fundamental features such as:
- Patient history recording
- Scheduling tools
- Document management
Still not sure which EHR solution is the right one for you? Be on the lookout for EHR systems with these features.
Not Sure Which EHR System to Implement? Try Medesk!
Medesk is among the top EHR systems currently available on the market.
Our EHR system has won awards for being one of the easiest-to-use tools on the market, as well as the best value for the price!
In addition to all the essential features of an EHR solution, our system also comes with practice management software capabilities.
Some of our essential features include:
- A robust patient portal where patients can schedule appointments, can access their lab results, and more, all in one place.
- Simplified reporting with 40+ templates to generate data-filled reports in minutes.
- Telemedicine, so you can conduct online consultations with your patients through the online patient platform.
- A quick and simple prescribing tool to make prescribing more convenient for both you and your patients.
- Evidence-based medical decision-making tools to help with diagnostics and offer treatment options.
Like what you see so far? Get started with our free trial to find out whether our EHR solution is right for your medical practice!