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What is an EHR?

By 28 December 2023April 16th, 2024No Comments
what is ehr electronic health records

What Is EHR and How Does It Help Healthcare Organizations?

Over 96% of non-federal hospitals and 78% of physicians use the EHR system in the US! And these numbers increase every day as more healthcare providers know about its advantages and features.

what is ehr electronic health records

Understanding what is EHR is complicated and daunting, at least for organizations looking into this model for the first time. Today, the government incentivizes the use of EHRs and encourages providers to ditch traditional data management methods. 

Complicated right?

If you want to know the basics and how to get started, you have come to the right place!

This blog helps you uncover- what is an EHR system and why you must implement it within your healthcare practice. Let us begin!

What is the EHR System in Healthcare?

EHR stands for Electronic Health Records and allows healthcare providers to collect, store, manage, retrieve, analyze, use, and share patient data. We know what you are thinking- “But those are too many features for one system.”

It is the best part about using an Electronic Health Record: this data collection and management model replaces the old, paper-based files entirely and helps hospitals, clinics, doctors, etc., take a more systematic approach! 

You may use EHRs on their office computers locally or employ cloud-based applications to function remotely. Either way, you can save time and resources by automating data compilation and securing patient confidentiality. 

So what do the Electronic Health Record systems contain? 

All EHRs comprise Patient Health Information (PHI), including:

  • Patient demographics
  • Mailing and residential address
  • Medical background
  • Allergies
  • Vital signs
  • Progress notes
  • Prescriptions
  • Diagnoses
  • Medications
  • Radiology images
  • Test reports
  • Immunization dates
  • Discharge summaries
  • Billing details and medical expenses
  • Transfer details, etc.

Providers must learn what is EHR in healthcare to streamline their patient care services and strengthen relationships. Automating the workflows helps them make better decisions and best use their patient's medical information. 

All Electronic Health Records systems are patient-centric and real-time. It means a doctor can know a person’s medical condition in seconds and provide the best care plan. These aspects make EHRs one of the most advanced innovations in the healthcare sector that helps doctors and patients equally!

What Are the Advantages of Using an Electronic Health Record System?

EHRs are a continuous process of securely collecting the patients’ medical information using a digital interface and using it rightfully. Organizations spend about $1,200 yearly per user to implement and maintain an Electronics Health Records software application.

But why? What are the reasons causing healthcare practices and hospitals to spend so much and shift to this digital mechanism?

Here are the top advantages of using EHR that make it worth it:

Prevent Delays in Treatment and Help Patients Stay Updated

Late diagnosis and treatment delays lead to 75% of fatalities in a hospital. A healthcare provider cannot afford to waste a second knowing the patient’s medical history and starting the treatment.

Yet, it is hard to access the necessary information immediately without learning what is Electronic Health Records and how to implement them! EHRs enable providers to understand the patient’s health conditions during emergencies and help them offer the best services. Integrating advanced medical web development strategies into EHR systems can further streamline healthcare services, offering seamless access and management of patient data across various digital platforms.

Patients also benefit from the EHR system because they can check their data online. They can track their prescriptions and see the progress notes to determine how well they are doing!

Reduce Medical Errors

Clinical errors are another cause of patients' severe consequences, like injuries, allergy reactions, and deaths. With over 400,000 drug-related injuries and 100,000 medication error reports, employing EHR Electronic Health Record software is the need of the hour.

These local or cloud-based applications for storing EHR records assist doctors in prescribing the correct medication and ensuring their database aligns with the patient’s medical history. Hence, there is no scope for manual errors as the software modifies the errors (if any) immediately.

Improve Provider-Patient Interactions

Often, patients cannot provide all the details accurately or are nervous around a new doctor. The Electronic Health Records system ensures that the provider has all the information in front of them, irrespective of whether the patient remembers to tell it to them.

It helps make the patients more comfortable because they can be confident they will receive the correct treatment. It allows doctors to be more upfront and friendly to establish genuine relationships with the primary focus of improving the quality of their services.

Understanding what is an EHR system enables providers to help their patients better with

  • Adopting healthier lifestyles
  • Increasing physical activity levels
  • Preventing behavioral risks
  • Sticking with their care plans
  • Inculcating timeliness to improve health care, etc.

Decreased Paperwork and the Need for Duplicate Tests

Not knowing about EHR health care pushes doctors to use paper-based records. These files are hard to manage and make it impossible to access accurate information at the right time. Hence, there are more occasions when they must prescribe duplicate tests because of loss of medical data—piling up the paperwork.

Employing EHR programs allows you to skip buying files and spare an extra room to store them. You can replace these traditional records with a better, more advanced option and access everything from a single device.

Using EHR in healthcare also helps patients save costs by avoiding multiple tests. Most hospitals save a fortune by shifting to this model and passing down the savings to their patients as discounts. So it is a win-win for both parties that reduces medical expenses and places more significance on a patient's health.

The Primary Functions of EHR Systems

An EHR comprises the results of all administrative and medical encounters between a patient and their nurse, doctor, physician, etc. It may reflect the knowledge, practice style, and job skills of the provider who creates it. But the primary functions remain the same at every healthcare institution, including:

Practice Management- 

Developing a Better Financial System

An effective EHR healthcare program allows providers to manage their financial transactions better. It records the practice’s revenues and expenses and helps you get a consolidated view of your performance.

EHR databases also help you know the patient’s insurance eligibility and cover details. They allow you to offer better payment options and improve patient satisfaction.

Digital Invoicing

When you understand what are EHRs and implement the system within your practice, you can skip doing anything manually. The same goes for patient invoicing- you may automate the entire process of compiling a bill for the availed services, helping you get paid faster.

It also means you do not need additional staff to handle billing. The EHR software program can help you get all the patient details at your fingertips, making the patient confident that you are not overcharging them.

Determining Patient Demographics and Measuring Patient Satisfaction

An advanced Electronic Health Record EHR system can help you increase patient acquisition and retention rates. And how does that work?

It helps you determine your prime patient demographics to help personalize your interactions and improve your marketing activities. Here is an example:

Imagine your hospital is on 12th Avenue in Nebraska City, and most of your patients are from the vicinity. You use the EHR systems and notice that your patient base consists of more men than women and very few children. The automated data management interface allows you to track such analytics in seconds.

You may draft strategies to rectify the situation and grow your practice. For instance, you can promote children's health welfare programs. Or increase the number of female staff members to make more female patients welcome at your hospital.

It comes down to using Electronic Healthcare Records to keep tabs on your patient demographics and increase business. However, it also helps boost your patients’ experience with your organization.

The EHR tool lets you measure patient satisfaction ratios by considering several factors. And there is no way you could do those things manually and with the same efficiency.

Drug Management- 

Decision Support

Gone are the days when a doctor had to take notes carefully on a notepad. Knowing what are EHR programs and using them for their practice allows them to feed everything into an online database and access it whenever needed.

The software allows providers to check for allergies or side effects, deal with drug interactions, and make the correct decision based on a pool of digital knowledge. Thus, there are fewer errors when you learn what is Electronic Health Records and avoid risks regarding the patient’s life.

Flow Chart Compilation

A flow chart gives physicians a quick preview of the patient’s reaction to specific medications and their progress over time. It also helps them know about the patient’s past interactions with them—including their approach to the care plans, preferences, insurance coverage, etc.

All Electronic Health Records EHRs allow healthcare providers to draft such charts within the blink of an eye. Think about chronologically segmenting the patient information with every minute detail and tracking progress to improve the treatment.


Electronic or digital prescriptions are among the top EHR functions that benefit patients and doctors immensely. The provider can prescribe a medication list to their patient online and send it to their email addresses directly.

Patients do not need to carry the files or take their prescriptions to the pharmacy. They can upload the e-prescription and order their medicines online.

Clinical Management-

Treatment Plans and Instructions

The EHR databases include the patients’:

  • Medical histories
  • Vital signs
  • Post-discharge care instructions
  • Chief medical complaints
  • Diagnosis notes
  • Recurrence details
  • Progress reports
  • Lab results, etc.

Any doctor or nurse from any healthcare organization can access these databases and find such patient details effortlessly. It allows them to integrate medical services and prioritize the patient’s health.

Investing to know what are EHR systems and incorporating them helps make faster decisions—crucial during life or death situations. For example, when a patient gets admitted to your hospital, you may not have much time to run a blood test or analyze past medical conditions. The EHRs let them get all the information they need, ensuring they can provide adequate services on time.

Follow Up With Patients 

Implementing EHR systems makes following up with patients effortless for your hospital staff. With automated emails and phone calls, you can save tons of money, time, and effort to keep in touch with every patient.

A hospital may need to follow up with prospective patients who booked an appointment and did not show up. It can send appointment reminder letters using an automated direct mail API like PostGrid.

Our direct mailing solutions allow companies to incorporate an EHR system successfully by assisting them in their patient correspondence. PostGrid helps send documents, including:

  • Physical and mental health records
  • Care instructions
  • Consent forms
  • Invoices and receipts
  • Diagnostic test reports
  • Patient statements
  • Physical examination results, etc.

PostGrid also allows you to send marketing mailers to set yourself apart from the competition and showcase your brand as a reputable organization.

Staying HIPAA Compliant and Following All the Clinical Guidelines

Most healthcare providers are eager to learn what is an Electronic Health Record to follow HIPAA regulations and practice legally. Luckily, EHR systems guide hospitals, clinics, dental offices, etc., on how to secure patient data and maintain HIPAA compliance within their institution.

They allow doctors to view all the clinical guidelines in-depth and check how they can follow them religiously—avoiding legal trouble and increasing efficiency.

System Management-

Appointment Scheduling

Patients want the flexibility to book consultations online, reschedule, and cancel them at their convenience. They also need a mechanism that sends alerts and reminders, so they do not forget an appointment—a function that Electronic Health Records software can handle well!

Hospitals or clinics can manage patient intake and handle the doctor’s schedule using this EHR function. The outcome? Reduced patient wait times, better patient experience, improved productivity, and more acquisitions!

Referral Management

25% to 50% of physicians are unaware whether their patients see the specialists they referred for further treatment. Poorly managed referrals can cost an organization more than you expect! Employing EHR systems in healthcare can help you cut these negative consequences and track your referrals better.

It is hard to use a referral management system individually. But EHR tools offer this aspect as an in-built function. They help you keep accurate records about how much you earn in referrals and to what degree your patients follow your advice.

Transcription and Translation Handling 

All EHR systems allow healthcare providers to translate everything from the prescription to test reports. Hence, doctors and patients from different cultural backgrounds speaking various languages can coordinate properly and improve health services.

Many doctors are also interested in knowing what is EHR system because it offers handwriting and voice recognition capabilities. These transcription options help providers record every patient interaction that adds to their complete healthcare without missing any detail.

What Are the Challenges Healthcare Providers Face While Adopting EHR Systems?

Clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other organizations might face several barriers to implementing EHR healthcare mechanisms successfully. Like other systems, EHRs are hard to set up and manage. But they result in more benefits than drawbacks in the long run.

Here are some challenges you must overcome to get there:

Lack of Capital

Many organizations do not have adequate money to implement EHR systems which hamper their shift from the traditional approaches. The upfront EHR costs range between $26,000 and $33,000, and some hospitals might not be ready to spend such significant amounts.

Initially, the government incentivized many institutions to adopt the Electronic Health Records (EHR) model. And they can manage the costs by eliminating excessive front-desk expenses, making it easier to save and invest.

Concerns Over ROI

As said above, you can cut some costs by learning what is EHR software and using it for your practice. But, most providers are concerned about the ROI—whether they can recover the invested amounts and generate a profit using the EHR program.

These concerns keep providers from integrating their activities and offering top-notch quality services. They are one of the biggest challenges in implementing EHR systems because of the traditional mindsets and resistance to change that restrict some institutions from moving forward.

Culture and Training

It is hard to shift to a new model if your staff works with paper-based records, offline appointment booking, paper billing, etc. Implementing an Electronic Health Records management system needs excessive training and cultural changes within the organization to work out properly.

Remember that these changes also need planning and investment. The organization may have to pay to train every staff member and conduct yearly training sessions.

Coping With Regular Updates

Most EHR Electronic Health Records programs need regular updates, costing hospitals tons of effort, resources, and time. Again, they must train the staff to deal with these changes, making it hard to use EHR databases.

Data Confidentiality and Security

Though EHR helps maintain HIPAA compliance, security, and data protection can be a concern. It depends on which EHR software application you use for your daily operations. And hospitals must do their research and find a vendor who best suits their requirements and can keep their databases private.

For instance, PostGrid’s direct mail services are HIPAA, PIPEDA, and SOC-2 compliant, keeping your patient data safe. And you can print and mail documents with sensitive information without risking a data breach when the items travel from the printers to USPS and the final locations.

Dealing With Non-Quantifiable Data

Some people believe they cannot quantify a specific patient interaction and feed the details into the EHR system. It keeps them from knowing what are Electronic Health Records and finding ways to adopt them.

However, these applications have numerous capabilities to help doctors record every little detail about a patient encounter, irrespective of whether they can quantify it.

For example, the EHR systems can read and record sketches to make them available to other doctors or specialists. It also keeps track of the patients’ early symptoms that might seem irrelevant but can be helpful during further treatment.

Data Quality

Investing in understanding what is an EHR program and adopting it for your practice is not always enough. Sometimes, the data quality is poor because of mismanaged inputs or incorrect details. If one provider enters something wrong, it can affect the patient’s overall healthcare in the long run. The trick is to automate everything, use e-prescriptions, transcribe every interaction, and limit manual effort.

All the above challenges are more like myths because EHR records are pre-built to address these concerns and solve them. Of course, you must use the correct vendor that offers several functionalities and helps you get the best out of EHRs.

Differences Between EMR and EHR

After you have enough clarity about what is an EHR in healthcare, you may find the concept of EMR puzzling. EMR stands for Electronic Medical Records and sounds similar to EHR, but they have very distinct characteristics. 

For example, EMR refers to patient information with only a specific hospital, physician, doctor, test center, etc. The data does not travel outside the organization because of transferability limitations, privacy concerns, etc. Only one provider can access this information and make the necessary decisions. 

Imagine you visit a doctor, and they ask you to run a scan. The results stay within the practice, compelling you to run another scan if you consult another provider a few days or weeks later. 

It is because, unlike EHR, the provider does not make the scan results accessible to other organizations. An EHR database ensures every detail is available to every provider to integrate the patient’s healthcare, irrespective of which hospital or doctor they select. 

Another primary difference is that EMR is a mere shift from paper charts to a digital database. Apart from this feature, it lacks everything EHR systems can offer, like HIPAA compliance, front-desk jobs automation, etc. 

Today, more providers want to know what is EHR systems to manage patient information, comply with the law, and increase revenue simultaneously. EMR databases only record the patient’s medical data, like their current blood pressure readings, heart rate, vaccinations, etc.

They do not deal with how a provider must use this information or share access with other healthcare organizations. 

Another thing to note is that EHR systems allow patients to view their data, whereas EMR workflows restrict it. So patients need to struggle to get their reports or request the current provider to transfer the files. Also, EMR does not have advanced features, like performance reporting, referral management, etc., making more providers prefer EHR. 

How Can PostGrid’s Direct Mailing Solutions Assist Healthcare Organizations Adopt EHRs?

PostGrid is an automated direct mail service provider for organizations from all sectors. It makes marketing, transactional, and compliance communications affordable and effective!

You can use PostGrid’s direct mail automation software to send marketing mailers or crucial documents, like invoices and statements. They help you in adopting EHR systems in the following ways: 

Here is how PostGrid helps organizations know what is an EHR system and how to improve productivity. One of our clients wanted to manage their patient communications more effectively but save costs. They wanted frequent patient interactions to be a part of their EHR systems to establish personal bonds with their audience and improve their brand image. 

PostGrid’s print and mail solutions helped them automate thousands of mailings monthly, comprising marketing materials and confidential documents. They could accomplish their motive to save money because PostGrid offers flexible pricing plans to suit the unique needs of every organization. 

The result was better than we expected—they received 100+ leads in the first week. And they succeeded in retaining 40% more patients than usual in the upcoming months. 


You may have reservations about using EHR as part of your daily functioning, but it can transform your operations drastically. Many regulations around patient data compilation, management, and reporting also make sense to incorporate Electronic Health Records into your existing workflows. 

Though EHRs and EMRs are from the same branch of digitizing paper-based records, they are two different concepts. One can choose which system to use but note that EHRs are way more comprehensive than EMRs and have all the functions that EMR systems offer. 

This guide helps organizations understand the significance of using digital patient records instead of traditional ones and aligning all patient encounters. It allows providers to learn what is EHRs and how much they can affect their business. 

For assistance, hospitals, clinics, physician practices, etc., can use PostGrid’s automated direct mail services. Our solutions allow them to keep in touch with their patients, follow the legal guidelines, and improve brand visibility!

Talk to our sales team to know more about EHR and how PostGrid helps you get the best of it!

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