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EHR vs EMR—What’s the Difference Between Electronic Health Records and Electronic Medical Records?

Many people use the terms Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) interchangeably to mean the same thing. This is erroneous; there is certainly a difference between EHR and EMR.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines the two terms as follows:

Electronic Medical Record: An application environment composed of the clinical data repository, clinical decision support, controlled medical vocabulary, order entry, computerized provider order entry, pharmacy, and clinical documentation applications. This environment supports the patient’s electronic medical record across inpatient and outpatient environments, and is used by healthcare practitioners to document, monitor, and manage health care delivery within a care delivery organization (CDO). The data in the EMR is the legal record of what happened to the patient during their encounter at the CDO and is owned by the CDO.

Electronic Health Record: A subset of each care delivery organization’s EMR, presently assumed to be summaries like ASTM’s Continuity of Care Record (CCR) or HL7’s Continuity of Care Document (CCD), is owned by the patient and has patient input and access that spans episodes of care across multiple CDOs within a community, region, or state (or in some countries, the entire country).

To summarize, an EHR is the aggregate electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created and gathered across multiple different healthcare organizations’ EMR. Click here to read more about EHRs and EMRs [PDF—972 KB].

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