OK, so what’s the difference?
I’m glad you asked. Typically an EMR is a medical record stored in any type of electronic format, PDFs being the most common. But an EHR is an EMR whose information is quantifiable. In other words, you can use pieces of the EHR for calculating percentages of records with a certain diagnosis or the number of patients who have received a certain treatment, etc. as well as sorting records electronically as by age, gender, race or smoking status. An EHR’s reportability is extremely helpful when dealing with continuity of care documents as well as in monitoring public health, as a whole or by segments.One of the Core Set Objectives for Meaningful Use
and EHRs is to “Implement the capability to electronically exchange key clinical information
among providers and patient-authorized entities”; the faxing or emailing of a PDF (which is an EMR) does not meet this requirement.
Currently, however, these two terms are being used without clear distinction to describe any medical record stored electronically. I’m confident that this will change as we go farther into the process of transferring medical practices from paper to EMR to EHR.