EMR and EHR: What You Need to Know

Updated on June 25, 2021

It can be confusing when it comes to patient medical records, what’s included, how they’re stored, and patient rights relating to them. The main two types of records are abbreviated to EMR and EHR. Learning about what’s most important about them, and their relative benefits, is helpful to anyone involved with the healthcare profession, including the patients themselves. Below we discuss EMR vs EHR.

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The Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

Where there was once a paper chart and a clipboard, this has been replaced with the Electronic Medical Record. Instead of insecure patient information clipped to the bedframe, there’s now a secure record relating to the patient and their care. What’s important to appreciate with an EMR is that while it’s standardized within the healthcare facility to make it easier to understand, it’s not intended to be shared externally. This is a clear distinction with this stored medical information. 

However, it’s used within a healthcare organization to provide relevant information on current medications, previous medications, medical history for the patient, any diagnosis on record, relevant allergies, and more. This is potentially shared between departments to facilitate their work, but, again, it’s typically not externally. 

The use of an EMR provides better oversight and tracking, a documented past medical history, and fewer errors in a patient’s care. 

The Electronic Health Record (EHR)

The other record is the electronic health record (EHR). The EHR is a comprehensive medical record that includes all of the EMR along with other relevant information about the patient. Collaboration is baked into each EHR because it’s intended to be shared with relevant third-party medical and wellness organizations in pursuit of better patient care. For instance, when a patient is moving from one facility to another for a continuance of their care, an EHR will provide sufficient information in a digestible format that physicians can rely upon. Because of this, information isn’t lost in transit or misunderstood through verbal communication either. 

What’s Specifically Included in an EHR?

Along with the patient’s EMR information, lab results, demographic information, insurance coverage information, and any existing authorizations for treatment are included. It may be surprising to learn that even data collected from home-based health monitoring devices for wellness (part of the Internet of Things initiative) may be present too. Being able to include such additional information can prove invaluable in understanding outpatient symptoms and deciding what treatment is most appropriate under their revised circumstances. 

Safe Storage of Medical Information

To make it easier for healthcare organizations large and small to handle EHR records, they can now be stored and organized centrally. Certain companies provide secure upload and storage of EHRs on behalf of healthcare facilities. This can provide easy access to authorized personnel inside healthcare organizations tasked with a patient’s care. Some medical record storage companies have been performing this type of service for decades, including americanretrieval.com

With ongoing worries about privacy and medical record security, healthcare organizations must avoid any potential mishaps with private information. Not only is a leak potentially damaging to the patient, but it can land the organization in hot water too. 

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