EHR (Electronic Health Record) vs. EMR (Electronic Medical Record)

Posted by: Alok Prasad

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EHR vs. EMR: What is the difference?

There is an ongoing debate in the healthcare industry regarding the differences between Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR). Although often used interchangeably, they possess nuanced differences that significantly impact healthcare delivery. 

An EMR is designed to replace a paper chart within a specific practice or health care system; the information in an electronic medical record is meant to be used by staff within that practice alone. On the other hand, an EHR is designed to be compiled, accessed, and shared by anyone who provides care or treatment for a particular patient or group of individuals.

Practical Differences Between EMR and EHR

Still needing help understanding the difference between the two systems? These practical examples might make it more transparent:

  • An EMR records immunization data, but an EHR enables electronic sharing of that information with government, school, or workplace clinicians. 
  • A primary care practice can enter the report from a patient's diagnostic imaging study in an EMR, but the radiologist can upload digital images and notes into the patient's EHR. 
  • A patient can request that information from the EMR be transmitted to a consulting physician, but multiple authorized providers can view and add information to an EHR, enabling interactive communication and care coordination.

Let us start by understanding the definition of both these terms independently.


What are electronic medical records?

Electronic Medical Records are an electronic version of a patient's paper chart in a provider practice, clinic, or hospital designed to enhance clinical decision-making and improve patient care delivery. They include the patient's medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory test results. 

By using electronic medical records stored electronically on secure servers, providers can track patient data over time, identify patients for preventive visits and screenings, make better treatment decisions, and improve overall healthcare quality.

Electronic medical records are superior to paper records because they allow for more accessible storage, retrieval, and secure access to patient information, leading to improved accuracy, efficiency, and coordination of care. Additionally, they reduce the risk of errors associated with manual documentation and enhance security through encryption and access controls.

However, it is essential to note that Electronic Medical Records can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted only by authorized clinicians and staff within one healthcare organization. This ensures the security and privacy of the patient's medical data.

What is the definition of an EHR (electronic health record)?

Electronic Health Records go beyond standard clinical data by incorporating inputs from pharmacies, laboratories, wearables, and specialists. Thus, they offer a holistic perspective on the patient's health journey across different care settings. They help improve coordination of care between different providers and enhance patient outcomes by providing timely and accurate access to medical data.

It contains their medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory test results. It provides secure and instantaneous access to the treating providers and supports various care-related activities, such as decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.

Crucially, Electronic Health Records are designed to be accessible and managed by authorized clinicians and staff across disparate healthcare organizations. This interoperability fosters a more thorough understanding of a patient's health status, enabling informed and coordinated care decisions.

EHR System


Let us learn more about the differences below.


Electronic Medical Records

Electronic Health Records

Scope of Information

Contains patient medical history, diagnoses, medications, and treatment plans, usually within a single healthcare organization. 

Designed to be compiled, accessed, and shared by anyone who provides care or treatment for a particular patient or group of individuals. It moves beyond traditional boundaries of practice, health care network, and even geography to provide a complete, longitudinal record of the patient's health to enable more complete care coordination.


Cannot share information with other healthcare providers or systems makes it challenging to coordinate care with providers outside of a single organization.

A higher level of interoperability allows patient data to be shared securely and electronically among authorized healthcare providers.

Care Coordination

Limited capabilities for care coordination.

Designed to support care coordination across multiple healthcare providers and settings. This allows healthcare providers to share information and collaborate on patient care plans.

Analytics and population health management

May not have the same level of analytics and population health management capabilities as EHR.

Often include analytics tools that allow healthcare providers to identify trends and patterns in patient health data. This information can be used to improve patient outcomes and population health.



Topics: EHR Selection, Provider/Physician, Consultant

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