Electronic Medical Record Systems

Posted by: Alok Prasad

Learn More about EMR Software

In today's technologically advanced world, the healthcare industry has witnessed significant transformations, one of which has been digitizing traditional paper-based records.

This post explores the concept of EMR systems, delves into their key features, and highlights their numerous benefits to healthcare providers and patients. It also examines the various ways in which they are revolutionizing healthcare management.

The term "system" originates from the Greek term syst¯ema, which means to "place together" and defines a system as an integrated set of interoperable elements, each with explicitly specified and pre-defined capabilities, working seamlessly to perform value-added processing to enable a user to achieve set objectives.

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a digital version of a patient's paper chart containing medical history, diagnoses, treatments, and test results within a healthcare setting. EMRs provide a unified view of patient information by centralizing and digitizing data, offering quick access to medical records, practice management software, billing, e-prescribing, patient engagement tools, and clinical decision support. They streamline workflows, enhance patient care, and improve efficiency within healthcare practices by integrating various functionalities into a single platform.

Additionally, EMRs come with built-in tools for monitoring patient progress and are being increasingly integrated with artificial intelligence technologies, further enhancing their utility in a clinical setting.


Two types of electronic health records systems are used in the healthcare industry. While both systems store patient data, there is a significant difference. Electronic Medical Records are not intended to be shared with other providers involved in the patient's care as they are designed for use within a single healthcare organization. On the other hand, EHRs are designed to be interoperable, meaning they can be shared across multiple healthcare providers involved in a patient's care. This feature of EHRs ensures continuity of care and enhanced patient outcomes.

You can learn more about the differences between EMR and EHR here.

Cost of an EMR

The total cost of an EMR typically includes the cost of several components, such as software licensing fees, implementation and customization costs, training expenses for staff, ongoing maintenance and support fees, and potential costs associated with data migration and integration with existing systems. Additionally, there may be costs related to hardware infrastructure upgrades or cloud hosting services depending on the deployment model chosen by the healthcare organization.

You can learn more about the cost of implementing an EMR here.


Key Functions Supported by EMRs

EMR Systems support the following group of eight key functions for safety, quality, and care efficiency:

  1. Access patient information, such as diagnoses, allergies, lab results, and medications.

  2. Access to new and past test results among providers in multiple care settings.

  3. Computerized provider order entry to enhance legibility, reduce duplication, and improve the speed with which orders are executed.

  4. Computerized decision-support systems to help improve compliance with best clinical practices and ensure regular screenings and other preventive practices.

  5. Secure electronic communication among providers and patients to improve the continuity of care, increase the timeliness of diagnoses and treatments, and reduce the frequency of adverse events.

  6. Patient access to health records, disease management tools, and health information resources.

  7. Computerized administration processes, such as scheduling systems.

  8. Standards-based electronic data storage and reporting for patient safety and disease surveillance efforts.

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Types of EMR Systems

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems come in various forms, each tailored to meet specific needs within the healthcare landscape. From standalone EMR systems designed for individual practices to integrated EMR platforms for large healthcare networks, the diversity of EMR systems reflects the evolving demands of modern healthcare delivery.

A. Based on settings for which an EMR is designed

1. Ambulatory

Certain EMR Systems support outpatient medical facilities, such as primary care clinics, specialty clinics, and physician practices, by meeting their unique needs, including scheduling and appointment management, patient registration, charge capture, and clinical documentation. They may be typically lighter and more streamlined than EHRs designed for inpatient care, focus on ease of use and efficiency for busy outpatient practices, and support the needs of individual practitioners, small clinics, and larger medical groups.

2. Acute Care

EMR systems designed for hospitals and other inpatient care facilities should support the unique needs of inpatient care, including patient admission and discharge, real-time tracking of patient information, and management of complex medical information such as vital signs, lab results, and medications. Such systems may include features such as decision support, alerts and notifications, and integration with clinical decision-support systems.

Generally more comprehensive and complex than software designed for outpatient care, Acute Care software addresses the more complex needs of inpatient care environments and is designed to support the needs of larger healthcare organizations, including hospitals, critical care facilities, and rehabilitation centers.

3. Hybrid

A combination of both ambulatory and acute care EMRs.

B. Based on Specialty

1. Specialty-specific

Specific needs of a particular medical specialty or healthcare organization, such as dermatology, ophthalmology, or mental health clinics, are met by specialty-specific software. They often include pre-configured templates and workflows tailored to the specialty's needs. Still, they may lack the flexibility and customization of general-purpose EMR systems.

2. Multi-specialty

The software needed by healthcare organizations with multiple medical specialties should provide a unified view of patient information across numerous specialties from a single system, regardless of the specialty involved. This can improve efficiency and coordination of care and provide a more complete picture of a patient's health history.

They typically include a range of features and functionalities standard to many different specialties, as well as customization options to meet the specific needs of each specialty. They are generally more flexible and customizable than specialty-specific EMRs and are well-suited to healthcare organizations with multiple specialties, such as large clinics or hospitals.

They can be a good choice for healthcare organizations that need to manage various medical information but still want a unified system for managing patient data.

C. Based on the mode of Deployment

1. Server-based

Also known as on-premise systems, server-based systems are installed and run on a server within a healthcare organization's infrastructure. While the benefit of an on-premise deployment is that you have control over the equipment, that is also a drawback. Medical practices that deploy EMR systems in-house must have an IT expert maintain the hardware, software, and data it stores. If equipment breaks down, it can add unexpected expenses to your bottom line.

2. Cloud-based

In a cloud-based deployment, patient health information is stored, managed, and accessed online on remote servers instead of local or personal computers. They allow healthcare providers to access patient information from anywhere with an internet connection and enable secure sharing of patient data between different healthcare organizations.

3. ASP (Application Service Provider) based

ASP is a type of deployment where the software and data are hosted by a third-party provider, usually on remote servers, and accessed by healthcare organizations over the Internet.

In this model, healthcare organizations pay a fee to access and use the EMR system, and the ASP is responsible for maintenance, upgrades, security, and other technical aspects of the system. This can reduce the cost and complexity of implementing an EMR system for healthcare organizations, as they do not have to invest in and maintain their infrastructure.

D. Based on Open Source vs. Proprietary

EMR systems can also be classified by whether they are open source or proprietary.

1. Open-source

Open-source systems have their source code available for anyone to modify and use. They often have a more active community of developers and can be more customizable, but they may also have limited support options.

2. Proprietary

Proprietary EMR systems are often owned and controlled by a single vendor.

E. Based on Vendor Size

EMR systems can be classified by the type of vendor that provides them. For example, some vendors offer EMR systems for small practices, while others focus on larger healthcare organizations. 


Topics: EHR Selection, Provider/Physician, Consultant

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