The Difference Between EMR and HER*, Oops I meant EHR

EHR vs EMR

Since technology made it available, health care workers have used electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR) interchangeably. This is due to the lack of differentiation in the behavioral health and mental health industry when describing and discussing these two platforms. So, one might ask, what is the difference between the two?

The establishment of EMR was first. This product helps store charts electronically in care delivery organizations (CDOs), such as a clinical office or hospital. Authorized practitioners within the clinic can easily track their notes and data over time, check patients’ records from previous years, and check any other facility-based patient data. The use of technology increases efficiency and helps improve the total care within a practice.  The technology allows providers to spend less time trying to interpret poor handwriting, leading to an overall decrease in errors due to miscommunication. EMR might sound great for an organization, but the limitation is the lack of ability to transfer information outside of the practice. To transfer confidential client information, medical offices must print off and mail documents, which could lead to a privacy breach.   

And then came the EHR. The design of electronic health records not only collect the medical records of patients from their primary physician but also focus on the overall health of the patient. EHRs allows clinicians that care for a patient to file their notes and charts within a system and share their findings. Including services received from coast to coast, such as laboratories, specialists, nursing homes as well as other healthcare organizations. Not only does this allow clinicians full access to any medical document filed on the patient, but the patient themselves would have access to it as well. The result eliminates the need to print and mail documents.

EHR is an excellent tool within the health network that leads to more efficient care for clients and remove the stressors of having to transfer labs, tests, and charts between practices. It guides health care professionals to create well thought out treatment plans and aid decision making.

EHR’s provide multiple benefits for patients and health care providers, yet many providers remain hesitant to make the change. Most lack the motivation to transfer over, lack the knowledge about the advantages of an EHR, or do not see the direct benefits it provides for the practitioners. Many prefer to write their notes and charts, and some are intimidated by technology. Multiple factors influence the purchase of EHR, but the overall safety of patients should be the primary concern, and the response should be the purchase of an EHR.

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