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An Overview of EMR: Meaning, Benefits & How They Differ From EHRs

The terms EHR and EMR are often times used interchangeably in the healthcare world. What is the difference between an EHR and an EMR? EMRs are often referred to as digital versions of paper records while EHRs go beyond just charts and offer a broader view of a patient’s care and medical history. Below we outline some of the similarities and differences between the terms. 

What is an electronic medical record (EMR)?

An electronic medical record helps you document your patient’s medical history and data into either a server-based or cloud-based software. Every patient has their own personal health record within the EMR.

Benefits of electronic medical records

Electronic medical records are beneficial for medical professionals and different healthcare providers because they allow you to record and share patient data more effectively. This can help patients to receive better care, especially because a patient’s health history is more accessible. 

Easily track patient data

Having the ability to easily track patient data and patient charts makes a clinician’s job to provide care more efficient. From patient screening information to medical charts, everything is in one place. 

Enhanced privacy

Another benefit of EMRs is enhanced privacy due to the fact that practices can record and audit who has had access to a patient’s data and restrict data versus paper charts which made it more difficult to accurately track access. This is important for a practice’s ability to comply with HIPAA. 

What is an EMR system?

An electronic medical record system can refer to the software used to utilize an EMR or the software and protocols in place around the use of EMRs and patient care. 

EMR vs EHR: What is the difference?

Below we outline some of the differences between an electronic health record or EHR systems and an EMR. 

EHR (electronic health records) 

  • A digital record of patient health information 

  • Streamlined sharing with other clinicians and labs 

  • Allows a patient’s medical information to move with them 

  • Access to tools that clinicians can use for decision-making 

EMR (electronic medical records) 

  • A digital version of a chart 

  • Not designed to be shared outside the individual practice 

  • Patient record does not easily travel outside the practice 

  • Mainly used by clinicians for diagnosis and treatment 

Explore a Sample Chart 

Benefits of EHR

In terms of the benefits of an EHR, one of the main advantages is the more advanced abilities for patient medical data to be shared and accessed in order to receive more enhanced care. EHR software was born out of policy changes like “meaningful use” which aimed to increase clinician adoption of EHRs and to set standards for EHR use. 

Streamlined sharing

Another key benefit of EHRs is the ability for healthcare providers to share medical data and medical information seamlessly. 

Easily accessible by the patient

Using patient portals, the relevant patient information from a patient’s record should be easily accessible when needed in order to enhance the patient’s care.  

See How Elation’s EHR Powers Practice Growth


What does EMR mean in healthcare?

Electronic medical records are a cornerstone in providing healthcare today as they are the home base for patient data and health information over time. 

What are EMRs used for?

EMRs can be used to access patient data in order to provide a patient diagnosis and treatment. 

How do nurses use EMR?

Like other clinicians, nurses can also use EMRs to access patient health information in order to provide high-quality care.