What is the difference between EHR and EMR?

EMR and EHR. So much difference, just one letter can make! 

EMR and EHR have similar characteristics and applications. Since both the terms are widely synonymous, the subtle differences between them can be interesting to understand (and worth knowing, too!).

The first step in understanding the difference between EHR software and EMR software is that EMR stands for electronic medical records, and EHR stands for electronic health records.

What is EMR Software?

Simply put, an EMR is a digital version of a patient’s chart or health information. It contains the patient’s medical condition and treatment history from one medical practice. Usually, this record stays in the doctor’s office and does not get shared even when the patient switches doctors.

Benefits of EMR Software

EMRs have quite a few benefits over paper records: They allow doctors to:

  • Track patient data.
  • Identify patients who are due for checkups or screenings.
  • Get a quick look at the patient’s basic vitals, such as vaccination or blood pressure.
  • Monitor and improve quality of care within the medical practice

Alongside so many benefits, EMRs have one big disadvantage. The EMR system is designed for internal use by one practice, which means if a patient gets referred to a specialist, the EMR data (in digital form) cannot be shared with the specialist. The staff at the first practice will need to print out the patient’s medical details and mail it. This drawback makes the EMR system pretty much similar to paper records.
After the development of EMR software, the healthcare technology providers realized there was room for improvement. That’s when the EHR software entered the scene.

What is the EHR Software?
EHRs fulfill most of the purposes that EMRs do, and offer much more. EHRs have a sharper focus on the patient’s overall health, and not just medical questions as revealed by lab test results and diagnosis in EMR. Healthcare providers can easily share information using EHR software.

EHR systems thrive on interoperability, which allows the transfer of patient’s data in real-time between providers when a patient starts seeing a new provider. As a result, EHRs build up a broader picture of a patient’s health, collecting information from every provider involved in a patient’s healthcare.
A lot of EHR software provides patient portals that allow patients to access their medical history and track their treatment progress, giving them a more significant role throughout their entire wellness journey.
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