If you’ve been involved in healthcare in any capacity in the United States, you had to have heard the acronyms EMR and EHR used extensively. For most people, the two mean the same thing. But it is not so for healthcare professionals.
EMR stands for electronic medical records. In this context, the word “medical” means the things concerned with medical procedures, usually those involving treatments and diagnostics. On the other hand, EHR stands for electronic health records. Here, “health” is a broader term covering a lot more. In simple words, health refers to a state of being sound in body and mind and being free of diseases. In light of this, it is agreed upon that EHRs are more comprehensive than EMRs.
EMRs are a digital version of the physical reports contained in a physician’s clinic or a single healthcare organization, including a patient’s medical history and previous treatments. An EMR enables a doctor to view a few factors regarding a person’s overall health, such as blood sugar levels, immunizations, etc. But it’s not easy to send an EMR from one practice to another.
An EHR can do a whole lot more than EMRs. They offer a complete 360-degree insight into a person’s health state. Moreover, they are also made to be shared amongst the broader medical community. In other words, if the EHR of a certain patient is collected at a hospital, it can also be shared with specialists at other hospitals, ambulatory care centres, testing centres, and so forth. Subsequently, all the experts can update the EHR as per their findings, recommendations, treatment, and prescriptions. The biggest advantage of an electronic health record is that it can be created, viewed, managed, and updated by multiple specialists across different organizations involved in a patients’ care.
The patients themselves can also access EHRs, and they follow the patient to different organizations, states, and even countries. The benefit of such flexibility is that it empowers caregivers to collaborate on unusual cases and requires an atypical approach and a collective effort by a team of multi-specialists. This is especially helpful for people who suffer from rare disorders and for whom conventional treatments only produce limited results.
As a person’s care journey progresses, the information and results are updated to reflect changes in his/her health. All the clinicians involved in the care of that patient can access the updated information in the EHR and stay abreast of any developments. Moreover, the patient can access his/her health data too and participate better in the care. With these benefits, an
is immensely helpful during follow-up care, such as post-surgical therapy or consultations. Additionally, electronic health records also make it easy for doctors to move patients from one care setting to another without endangering their health or disrupting a course of treatment. It’s only a matter of transferring patient records to the other organization’s digital system to enable doctors to access it.
So, EHRs are more than just a digital copy of a person’s medical charts.
They are crucial for doctors to better understand the overall health condition of a patient and make informed decisions. This factor goes a long way in improving patients’ medical outcomes involved in serious, life-threatening accidents. When such patients are brought into the emergency room, they’re likely to be unconscious or unable to provide any details about their health on their own. When the attending doctor can access such a person’s medical history, he would know everything about the patient’s allergies, history of medication, presence of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, pregnancy, and so forth. This information is crucial in making informed decisions that will save the person’s life or reduce risks for the surgeons by eliminating uncertainty.
In addition to helping clinicians get a complete view of patients’ health, electronic health records also help experts in public health assess medical information from a large number of patients. This is indispensable when fighting a pandemic, as experts can help understand the disease and its symptoms, enabling policymakers to implement measures to contain the spread of infection. In other words, EHRs are an amazing tool for improving the overall process of