EMR or EHR? What’s the Difference?

Q.  What is the difference between an electronic medical record (EMR) and an electronic health record (EHR)?

A.  While the industry has not yet come to a consensus, and several definitions exist for both electronic medical record and electronic health record, there is a clear and functional distinction between the two.

An electronic medical record , the electronic replacement for paper charts, is the record of patient health information generated by encounters at one particular physician practice. This is the physician's own electronic record of his or her patient's medical care. When you purchase medical records software, you are purchasing an EMR system.

An electronic health record  is a record of a patient's long-term and aggregate health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting. Stemming from the interoperability of multiple providers, the EHR is distinct from the software systems that directly support caregivers treating patients. Rather, the EHR connects the physicians and other caregivers. Included in this information are patient demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports.

If you have questions about EMRs, EHRs, or other health information technology (HIT), contact the TMA HIT helpline at (800) 880-5720 or e-mail  HIT .

Content reviewed: 6/28/10

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