While only one letter differentiates EHR and EMR, that little variation makes a big difference. Oftentimes the two terms are used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.
To elucidate the differences in the two system types, explain why EHRs make it easier to attest for Meaningful Use, and illuminate how they can improve patient management and outcomes, Power Your Practice is parsing out the technological disparities between EMRs and EHRs in the “End of EMR” article series.
The word sandwiched between electronic and record in each term changes the meaning of the phrase – with the main differences being comprehensiveness of the record and interoperability.
Definition of EMR
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) defines 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.”
EMRs provide some advantages over paper charts, such as:
- Data tracking over time
- The ability to quickly identify patients due for preventive screenings or checkups
- Tracking patient parameters like blood pressure results or vaccinations
- Monitoring and improving the quality of patient care within the practice
However, these advantages are confined to the single practice where the EMR is being used. Patient records aren’t easily shared outside of the practice and may even have to be printed and mailed to specialists or other care providers, creating opportunities for mistakes and delays in the care process.
Definition of EHR
The ONC states that EHRs provide all the benefits of EMRs plus the interoperability necessary for diverse systems to work together:
EHRs focus on the total health of the patient—going beyond standard clinical data collected in the provider’s office and inclusive of a broader view on a patient’s care. 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 ability to easily create, manage and share patient data across separate organizations will streamline health care, reduce redundancies and improve patient outcomes. Providing the best care possible for patients requires teamwork – and EHRs provide a secure way for clinicians, pharmacies and patients to work together toward better outcomes.
Incorporating all of the participants in the healthcare team – including the patient – into the healthcare process is one of the key expectations of the Stage-1 Meaningful Use requirements. Qualifying for the EHR Incentive Program will be much easier with a Meaningful Use certified EHR than with an outdated EMR system.
In our closing entry to the End of EMR series next week, we’ll outline the tangible benefits to collaboration, continuity of care, practice mobility and patient engagement that users enjoy in EHRs.
Can’t wait seven days? Download the End of EMR whitepaper, which details “Why Meaningful Use & Continuity of Care Depend on Electronic Health Records,” today.Tweet