The Difference between EHR & EMR Explained

Apr 07, 2022

There has been a long debate regarding the better option among EHR vs. paper records. No doubt, health IT software has indeed revolutionized medical software. Now the question arises; what is the difference between EHR and EMR? Unfortunately, some people still use the acronyms interchangeably today, leading to you purchasing EMR or EHR software that doesn't have all of the features you require. However, due to new technological requirements and federal regulations, it's become critical for medical providers to understand the differences between these two medical record-keeping systems. 

An electronic medical record (EMR) is a more basic system that will not comply with many federal regulations. In contrast, an electronic health record (EHR) has more features and will assist you in meeting Medicare reimbursement standards. 

Before we go any further, it's important to note that the name of a software provider does not indicate whether it is an EMR or an EHR. Unfortunately, many providers confuse the two terms; others begin as EMRs and evolve into more robust EHRs. 

EMR and EHR Difference

Are EHR and EMR the same thing? No, they are different terms used for different software. Keep reading to find out the difference between EHR vs. EMR. 

Electronic Medical Record Software (EMR)

In a clinician's office, EMR healthcare software stores digitized versions of paperwork. They contain information about your patients' treatment and medical history. EMRs allow you to keep track of historical data, identify patients due for checkups, and improve the quality of care.

Transferring data from an EMR system, on the other hand, is far from simple. First, you need to print or mail the patient records for consultations. 

Electronic Health Record Software (EHR)

An EHR system has more features than an EMR because it focuses on a patient's overall health. With an EHR, you'll have access to more than just clinical data; you'll get a holistic view of your care. 

EHRs make it easier to share data with other healthcare providers outside of the practice, such as laboratories and specialists. As a result, EHRs keep track of data from all clinicians involved in the patient's care. An EHR is essentially an EMR with interoperability (i.e., it integrates with the systems of other providers). 

Which One Should You Invest in?

Both EHRs and EMRs have fields for practitioners to enter medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, and other information into patient records. That may be sufficient for many practices to support the specialty or services. However, for others, having the extra features that an EHR system offers is a must. 

Despite the apparent differences in features between EHRs and EMRs, the terminology used to describe these two systems is still confusing. Therefore, when it comes to EHR or EMR software for your practice, the most important thing to remember is to do your homework and get the right system for your needs. To determine which type of system you're looking at, look at the system's features and look for an ONC-ATCB certification. 

Bottom Line

Electronic Health Record vs. Electronic Medical Record? Finally, deciding between an EMR and an EHR should be based on what you believe your organization's needs are after reviewing your current systems. Following these guidelines should help your practice increase its return on investment (ROI) and improve payer incentives.