EHR is born
During President George W. Bush’s time in the Oval Office, a call was made for an industry-wide adoption of electronic health record systems by 2014. This mandate was thereafter supported by President Obama as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a piece of legislation aimed at directing additional funding and incentives to healthcare professionals who adopt these electronic medical systems and follow the concept of “meaningful use” by the year 2014.
What is common between EHR and EMR?
Today, it's not uncommon for health care professionals to use "EMR" and "EHR" interchangeably. However, EMRs and EHRs share many functionalities and capabilities. Many people believe they're synonymous. Both contain some version of a paperless chart that collects, tracks, and manages patient information such as demographics, diagnoses and treatment histories, and health benchmarks. Both include features to increase efficiencies and improve the quality of care. But there are major differences, too.
What is EMR?
An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is "an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization."
EMR contains digital version of a paperless chart that collects, tracks, and manages patient information such as demographics, medical history, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab results, doctor’s notes, diagnoses, treatment histories, and health benchmarks. Further, it includes features to increase efficiencies and improve the quality of care.
People tend to use the phrases "electronic medical record" and "electronic health record" interchangeably, but in truth, there are differences between the two. Perhaps the most significant difference is that an electronic medical record is limited to the data collected and maintained on a particular individual in one single medical practice or health care system and intended to be used primarily for the convenience of the staff within that practice. In short, an EMR is an electronic version of the paper chart.
Collect patient demographic data
Document patient encounters and treatment history; record response to treatment
Track data and health metrics over time
Identify patients due for preventive services and routine care
Generate data to help monitor and improve the overall quality of care within the practice
These functions are extremely helpful to clinicians within the practice, and therein lies the main limitation of EMR software.
What you should know about EMR?
EMRs are designed to replace the paper chart and streamline the documentation and data management within a particular practice.
EMRs don't travel with patients, they aren't amenable to information sharing across health care systems and networks
EMRs are usually designed around the workflows, procedures, and processes of a particular organization and medical specialty. Therefore you will see Pediatrics-specific EMR, or Cardiology EMR, for example. These specialty-specific EMRs include templates and features that simplify the care delivery, documentation, and billing processes unique to a specialty practice.
EMRs may incorporate ancillary services such as lab and imaging, and even include clinical decision support, but these components are tightly organized around the needs of the individual physician and practice.