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EMR vs EHR

By 3 April 2024April 19th, 2024No Comments
difference between ehr and emr

Understanding EMR vs. EHR: Which Is the Better Option for Healthcare Providers?

The US expenditures on Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) will reach $9.9 billion by 2024! 

Since 2009, the US federal government has spent billions of dollars to replace the old paper-based health records system with digital methods. Many people are still unaware of the difference between EHR and EMR and how to choose the correct option!

difference between ehr and emr

Over a decade ago, all healthcare providers had to undergo mandatory training and invest in the hardware and software to bring the change! The purpose? A more integrated medical system across the country and easier access to citizens' health records to improve the quality of medical services. 

Most industry professionals use Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and EHR interchangeably, but there are massive differences between the two. 

This blog covers EMR vs. EHR to help you understand which system is better and its benefits. 

Let us begin!

Advantages of Using Electronic Records in the Healthcare Industry

When discussing healthcare-related terms, like EMR, EHR, etc., we talk about capturing and storing a patient’s medical data electronically. 

But why must doctors, clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, etc., use digital databases instead of paper-based?

Why has the government mandated the use of electronic records? 

Before we dig into the EHR vs. EMR debate, let us first answer these questions:

Decrease Medical Errors

Healthcare errors can endanger patient safety by causing injuries, severe side effects, and death. The FDA gets over 100,000 medication error reports yearly! And it poses a security concern for all healthcare providers and their patients!

Using the EMR or EHR database helps doctors and physicians reduce medical errors by recording accurate patient information. Most electronic database systems help the providers make a correct diagnosis and ensure that the prescription does not harm the patient’s health or clash with other medications. Also, EHR and EMR store the patient’s medical background to help physicians check if they have allergies or life-threatening conditions and prescribe the necessary drugs. 

No Paper Files

As said earlier, digitally recording and storing patient details help hospitals eradicate the use of paper-based records. Thus, they don’t need a store room to fit hundreds and thousands of patient files, making it almost impossible to access the necessary data whenever required. 

More Accurate Patient History Timeline

The EHR EMR digital systems help providers record a patient’s medical system data and time-wise. Moreover, it lets them access every entry chronologically at their fingertips. 

Thus, hospitals, nurses, etc., can look at the EHR or EMR of a patient and provide them with the necessary case during emergencies. 

Drive Patient Involvement

With paper-based records, patients cannot access their medical data online from start to end, whenever needed. However, the EHR and EMR systems help change that by allowing patients to view their details. 

It lets patients make better choices about their treatment if they face serious medical problems. Also, they can move from one provider to another without relying on their old doctor to transfer their healthcare data

Speech-to-Text and Other Advanced Features

All EHR or EMR records offer doctors many technologically advanced features, like speech-to-text, drafting medical charts, sending automatic reminders, etc. The speech-to-text aspect helps healthcare providers take accurate notes during patient appointments and streamline their treatment plans digitally. 

There are several other benefits of using the EMR, EHR system records instead of traditional, like:

  • Avoiding duplicate entries and managing databases better. 
  • Helping patients get the care they need without elaborate procedures or paperwork. 
  • Saving costs and time. 
  • Reducing manual work. 

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What Is EMR?

Electronic medical records are the online version of a doctor’s paper charts or diagnosis notes. They consist of the patient’s medical history with a hospital, like all the appointment details, test reports, care plans, etc. However, unlike EHR, EMR comprises patient data with only one healthcare institution. 

Let us take an example:

Remember when you walked into a doctor’s office, and they would hear your problem and write down everything on a notepad? The EMR or EHR helps the provider enter the details on a computer instead and save them more responsibly. 

However, only the EHR is available to all healthcare providers in an integrated manner. EMR stays only within a single hospital or clinic. It includes the patient’s medical background with a specific dentist, doctor, surgeon, nurse practitioner, physician, etc. 

You must know the EMR features in-depth to understand the EHR/EMR difference. Some of its most commonly-used aspects include:

  • The ability to track patient data promptly. 
  • Get periodic reminders for preventive screenings and checkups. 
  • Monitor overall operations and improve healthcare within the firm. 
  • Use EHR or EMR to understand a patient’s preferences and comfort levels. 
  • Check patients’ healthcare according to specific parameters, like heart rate or blood pressure. 

Please remember that, unlike EHR, EMR databases are less comprehensive. For instance, when a patient who is 36 years old visits a doctor, their EMR with the provider starts now. The EMR databases have nothing to do with their healthcare details from when they met a doctor as a child or had surgery a few years back. 

However, there is some scope to include their past medical history in an institution's current EMR. Patients can print their old diagnostic reports or prescriptions and carry them to their new provider’s office. Hence, EMR is not much different from paper-based files, making the EMR/EHR difference more fierce. 

EHR databases help healthcare providers offer patients the best care they can. However, they demand that patients be upfront about their medical background and provide the necessary details. Thus, one primary EHR and EMR difference is that EHR systems rely on patients significantly. But what happens if a patient gets into an accident and cannot provide the required data to a hospital? 

In such circumstances, a healthcare provider may need to run various tests and determine the patient’s medical conditions before starting a treatment plan. It can waste a lot of time and endanger a person's life. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of EMR

We have enlisted the pros and cons of EMR below to help you decide if your practice needs it-

Pros

When choosing between EMR and EHR, providers want to know what these systems bring to the table for their organizations. Here are the advantages of using EMR:

  • Less possibility of errors because of incorrect transcription or illegible handwriting. EMR systems help convert medical data into any language, allowing doctors and patients of various dialects to access the information effortlessly. 
  • All EHR EMR databases offer a quick view of the patient’s healthcare progress, helping providers track how their medications work for specific medical conditions. 
  • An EMR EHR system ensures that only authorized healthcare personnel can view patient details, helping organizations secure their medical data. 

Cons

  • Using EMR can cost up to $35,000 monthly, which is very expensive considering these systems have limited features.
  • It is easy to lose data on an EMR system if there is a technical problem and you forget to back up everything in advance.

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What Is EHR?

The most significant EMR and EHR difference is free transferability among hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, etc. 

HIMSS Analytics describes EHR as—a system representing the capability to share medical data among stakeholders and enable a patient’s healthcare information to follow them across several care modalities. 

EHR can do everything EMR systems can and more! Unlike EMR, EHR focuses on a patient’s complete medical data—not just on one hospital or provider. It offers a broader view of the patient's records from the beginning. All EHRs reach out to every healthcare provider beyond the organization who compiled the data. 

The Electronic Health Record vs. Electronic Medical Record difference discusses how EHR makes it easy to share data with laboratories, specialists, etc. Typically, EHR works on a single interface—allowing all related parties to access the necessary details from their respective devices. 

Also, providers can easily communicate with other healthcare institutions regarding what to do next or how to handle a care plan. Thus, it does not matter if a physician is on leave or busy with another patient! The EHR vs. EMR difference empowers the EHR databases to be visible to anyone who needs them at any time. 

Here is what the National Alliance for Health Information Technology says about EHR:

Authorized clinicians and staff members can create, manage, and consult EHR data across one and more organizations. 

Thus, every eligible institution can modify a patient’s records, assuming they are involved in the patient’s healthcare process. Knowing what is the difference between EMR and EHR also helps providers understand their rights and duties to conduct their operations smoothly and legally!

You can remember the differences between EHR and EMR by focusing on their keywords “health” and “medical.” Medical information is restrictive because it only consists of a patient’s blood pressure readings, current test reports, heart rate, diabetes level, etc. These details can change over time and are not helpful for a long time. 

EHR helps resolve this issue and makes digital records more accurate and comprehensive. It brings all healthcare professionals together to improve patients’ healthcare and reduce overall medical expenses. And that makes the primary difference in EMR versus EHR- shared decision-making, coordination, and team support!

More features include:

  • Streamlined transfers of real-time, accurate, updated medical information.
  • A complete patient record from radiology images, lab results, and blood test reports to allergies. 
  • Access to crucial point-of-care tools for correct diagnosis. 

When considering EHR vs. EMR, note that implementing EHR is a legal requirement. Organizations that fall back in this category or fail to replace their traditional methods with EHR can face heavy penalties. 

Please note that, unlike EMR, EHR ensures that no healthcare provider or patient loses, misplaces, or tampers with crucial medical data. All the information moves with the patient to every doctor or hospital they visit, irrespective of the location! And one can trace the patient’s medical footsteps using these records in no time. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of EHR

With fully-computerized and coordinated EHR systems, all healthcare professionals and their team members can offer more patient-centric services. However, they must know the difference between EMR and EHR to make correct decisions. 

Below, we have mentioned some pros of using the EHR system:

Data Security

All EHR systems comply with significant data security and privacy laws, like HIPAA, PIPEDA, SOC-2, etc. They have pre-built confidentiality and safety practices to help your organization meet federal and state healthcare standards. 

Thus, EHR wins the EMR vs. EHR debate if you view these systems from a security or legal angle. Hospitals, dental offices, test centers, etc., need not worry about making a medical error or breaching patient privacy using EHR. 

PostGrid’s direct mail API also offers HIPAA-compliant printing and shipping solutions to help organizations secure their daily operations. It supports EMR and EHR systems—and lets healthcare providers send crucial medical documents to patients, like:

  • Diagnostic test reports.    
  • Physical and mental health records. 
  • Discharge summaries. 
  • Post-discharge patient care instructions. 
  • Consent forms. 
  • Operative reports. 
  • Patient notes and prescriptions. 
  • Bills and invoices
  • Patient monthly statements, etc. 

PMS Inclusion

Most EHR software applications allow healthcare providers to access PMS (Practice Management System), a feature that EMR lacks. Thus, you should consider this technology when choosing between EHR and EMR for your practice.

Using PMS platforms, you may streamline and automate front-desk jobs, like appointment scheduling, medical billing, etc. They help providers record and store accurate patient information through EHR or EMR. But only EHR allows for quick transferability and complete automation. 

Advanced Tools to Speed Up Healthcare 

EHR includes several advanced tools for lab ordering, sharing databases, prescribing medications, streamlining external communications, etc. It also allows providers to incorporate telemedicine into their functionality and facilitate remote patient monitoring. Telehealth is another feature that EHR and EMR share- however, only EHR helps transfer the benefits to other organizations. 

Helps Meet the Meaningful Use Standards

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) obliges all healthcare providers to fulfill the meaningful use requirements for incentive programs like MIPS. EMR falls behind when it comes to such payment models, but EHR assists organizations in complying with all the rules. 

Thus, compliance is another primary EHR EMR difference healthcare providers consider. Also, it is one of the significant reasons more organizations have incorporated the EHR system into their operations. 

Improve Patient Outcomes

Three million Americans move interstate yearly! Moreover, the American Community Survey (ACS) data suggests that over 40 million people have moved to different locations in recent years. Thus, patients must have an effective way to take their medical records with them wherever they choose to relocate. 

As discussed earlier, the main difference between EHR and EMR is movability! But EMR records are inflexible, and patients cannot carry their EMR database to a different hospital, city, or state. They may need to request their old provider to let them access their files and take printouts to give to their new doctor. 

This inconvenience helps you pick a clear winner between EHR and EMR because patients hate making the extra effort. They don’t want to carry around piles of paperwork wherever they go. It also results in reduced patient satisfaction and poor health outcomes. 

No Need to Run Duplicate Tests

Imagine a patient who takes a blood test today but needs to change their healthcare provider for some reason a few days later. During such circumstances, the new doctor or physician prescribes the patient to take a duplicate test to ensure they have the details right. When discussing the difference between EHR and EMR, please note that EHR can eradicate the need to run such double tests. 

Shared Clinician’s Notes

Often, a hospital has to shift a patient to another facility because it does not have the necessary healthcare equipment or services. It happens when a patient needs critical care urgently, and the provider needs to speed up the record-sharing process. 

In the EMR vs. EHR debate, EMR restricts the sharing of crucial information among facilities and makes the discharge process hard. However, EHR enables hospitals to share clinician notes, discharge care, and follow-up instructions to move patients smoothly. 

Gives Patients Access to Their Medical Data

The EMR system does not let patients access their entire medical history with an organization, which gives EHR the upper hand in the EHR vs. EMR debate. 

All EHR databases give patients access to their records, helping them check their progress from time to time. Also, patients don’t need to ask their healthcare providers about their lab results, test reports, etc. The difference between EMR and EHR helps make medical data an open source for everyone. 

It also lets patients keep up with their medications, which motivates them to follow their provider’s instructions and continue making lifestyle changes. 

Disadvantages of EHR

Now that you know what is the difference between EHR and EMR, let us move on to the cons of EHR systems that most healthcare providers face:

Outdated Information

Sometimes, a provider may mistakenly access and use outdated medical information if nobody uploads the new data instantly. These situations may hamper EHR or EMR and lead to incorrect treatment and diagnosis. 

Cost a Lot of Time and Money

Setting up an EMR or EHR system is not simple and quick. Transitioning to a digital data management system from a traditional one can take months or even years. Also, it can cost a lot of money even when the federal government incentivizes providers to implement EHR.

You must choose the correct EHR and EMR system for your practice because you need to use it for years. Once your data capturing and storing mechanisms are fully operational, you must invest time and money into training your staff members. 

Also, you may need to switch to different systems according to the latest updates, which is not cost-efficient even at competitive rates. But remember that the more providers use the EHR EMR systems, the lesser the healthcare costs. 

Quality Issues

Your EHR system should support knowledge and data logistics. It means that it should not only help you access patient information on demand but allow you to maintain

  • Consistency. 
  • Completeness. 
  • Accuracy. 
  • Timeliness. 

An EMR or EHR software application must present data in an integrated and ready-to-use manner. However, some EHR systems make it hard to get a consolidated view of lab reports, physical examinations, images, procedures, etc. 

Inefficiency

Most EHR and EMR workflows demand the healthcare provider update the systems frequently. Not doing so can create inefficiencies in patient care and lead to more severe consequences. 

Thus, all healthcare organizations must have a team of IT specialists to work to address technical issues on the spot and minimize interruptions. 

When Should You Use EMR Vs. EHR?

Clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., can use EMR systems because they are an impressive improvement in physical medical charts and records. They can end paper-based documentation and avoid the risk of losing files or breaching confidentiality accidentally. 

However, unlike EHR, EMR only helps you address the issues regarding storing paper charts. It enables you to temporarily improve the quality of your healthcare services- which does not contribute to a patient’s overall experience. 

If you want to know whether EHR and EMR are the same, consider that EHR software programs help providers get all the benefits of EMR systems. But, they enable organizations to achieve much better results and offer an interoperable platform to connect everyone. 

Today, CMS incentivizes healthcare providers to use EHR systems, increasing demand. Also, most government regulations have compelled organizations to favor EHR in the EMR vs. EHR discussion. 

Therefore, though some providers use EMR and EHR simultaneously, we cannot deny that EMR systems might get phased out. Also, using two different workflows does not make sense when EHR can do everything alone!

Also, considering the costs, it is better to stop using EMR and switch to EHR completely. It helps institutions spend less time and effort training their doctors, specialists, admin staff, etc. 

Using EHR or EMR is not merely a transition from traditional to modern. It offers a better, more systematic way of handling patient records and valuing a patient’s life. These systems help make critical care vastly available and cut overall healthcare costs. However, EHR goes beyond these pros, making it a requirement for every clinic, dental office, hospital, etc. 

How PostGrid’s Direct Mail Solutions Help Healthcare Providers Facilitate the Use of EHR?

PostGrid helps all healthcare organizations, from nursing homes to pharmaceutical companies, make the best of their EHR and EMR databases. 

Our direct mail services enable providers to draft, print, and mail documents to their patients on time. They also allow hospitals, clinics, etc., to track their sent items, reduce direct mailing costs, and increase overall productivity. 

Here are some ways in which PostGrid adds value to your EMR EHR system:

  • Keep in touch with patients: Our print and mail API helps you keep in touch with your patients by sending them appreciation letters, get well soon postcards, etc. You can also send them newsletters or pamphlets, informing them about other services you offer. 
  • Update patient data: PostGrid’s address verification solutions assist your EHR and EMR workflows by letting you update your patient’s mailing addresses from time to time. Thus, you don’t need to worry about sending documents with sensitive information to incorrect locations. 
  • Improve marketing ROI: PostGrid helps healthcare providers better their marketing game by sending eye-catching, tailored direct mail items. You can put your EMR or EHR databases to work by integrating our API into your system and mailing relevant marketing items to improve ROI!
  • Get transparency and security: Our automated direct mail solutions are HIPAA-compliant and a hundred percent transparent. You can log into your dashboard and view your past orders, mailing plans, saved contacts, etc. Hence, you can maintain a similar level of data security as your EMR and EHR software programs. 

“PostGrid is one of the most effective and speedy direct mailing platforms I have worked with recently. It helps us at every stage of creating, packaging, labeling, and shipping patient statements, bills, claims documents, etc. And the rates are super affordable with flexible and helpful plans.”

It is what one of our clients, a leading healthcare provider in California City, said to our account specialists. PostGrid strives to help organizations incorporate direct mailing into their systems without worrying about the difference between EHR and EMR systems. 

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Conclusion

We hope this blog answers your question- are EHR and EMR the same thing?

They might sound similar, and their functionality may clash, but knowing the difference between EMR vs. EHR can save a provider a lot of trouble. Organizations must use an EHR solution to go beyond medical data management and focus on patients’ overall health. 

PostGrid can help you improve your operations and transform patient interactions. Request a demo to see how our automated services help healthcare organizations implement EHR vs. EMR direct mailing!

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