EMR vs. EHR – What’s the difference?

Even though some use these terms interchangeably, there are key differences between how and where they are used.

An electronic medical record (EMR) contains the standard medical and clinical data from one provider’s office. It’s basically a digital version of a patient chart and is used by providers for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs help clinicians track data over time, identify when patients are due for follow-up care or preventative screenings, monitor patients on certain parameters such as blood pressure readings or vaccinations, facilitate billing and coding, and improve overall quality of care within a single practice.

An electronic health record (EHR) includes a more comprehensive patient history, designed to contain and share information from all providers involved in a patient’s care. An EHR can move with a patient to other health care providers, labs, pharmacies, specialists, and hospitals.

EHRs are designed to be accessed by all people involved in the patient’s care – including the patient themselves, explains the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. An EHR is also necessary to meet the requirements of Meaningful Use, a government-mandated program that is pushing EHR-use to improve patient care. To avoid penalties on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, eligible providers must follow a set of criteria for effectively using an EHR.