Skip to main content

An Introduction to EHR Systems

Healthcare providers need to be aware of the importance of an EHR system and how it relates to the movement to transition from paper charts to electronic medical records.

What is an electronic health record?

What exactly is an electronic health record? An electronic health record is a digital medical record, similar to an electronic medical record, that helps you store and exchange a patient’s medical history. This kind of EHR software can be cloud-based or server-based. EHR data is considered PHI and is regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Medical records have a long history, and of course, the use of electronic health records is fairly modern. By 2004, the need to convert medical records to EHRs was recognized nationally with the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) of Health Information Technology (IT). In the 2010s EHR usage shot up due to a number of health policy changes and innovations within the EHR space which made them even more appealing for clinicians to adopt.  

Benefits of EHR 

What are the benefits of electronic medical records systems?  How do they impact patient care or the quality of care? How do they protect patient data

Better productivity

Many clinicians report that EHR systems allow them to chart and access data more efficiently and effectively, resulting in fewer errors, saved time, and better productivity not only among clinicians but also among clinical care teams. 

Enhanced security

Patient records offer enhanced security because it is easier to monitor and keep track of who is accessing data, what data, and when. This is an important benefit not only for clinicians but especially for patients who share their data. 

Lower healthcare costs

Greater efficiency can lead to lower healthcare costs overall. Since EHR adoption has spiked, there has been a growing conversation about how EHRs can help streamline healthcare workflows and help clinicians provide better care at a lower cost. 

Improved patient care

Having access to a patient’s medical history and most importantly, accurate data, can be life or death. Patient data can inform decision making which in turn leads to better care quality. 

Get your free sample chart

Download a free sample patient chart to see how Elation EHR streamlines patient visits with intuitive patient charting.

Types of EHR systems

There are a number of different types of electronic health record systems. What are these EHRs and what do healthcare providers need to know about them? 

Cloud-based EHR Software

With cloud-based EHR systems, data is stored on external servers and can be accessed with any device that has an internet connection. These types of EHRs are typically most common for independent practices these days because they cost less to maintain and are more convenient to use. 

Server-based EHR Software 

Server-based electronic medical records software is housed on-site within your practice. Sometimes they can be housed remotely. You and your staff maintain the equipment and the software involved, including ensuring that the software is updated on a regular basis. A technology expert can be employed to help with maintenance and troubleshooting. 

EHR features

Below are some key EHR features for medical records:

  • Contains a patient’s medical history and patient journey, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results

  • Allows access to evidence-based tools that providers can use to make decisions about a patient’s care

  • Automates and streamlines provider workflow.


All in all, EHR systems are an important pillar of providing healthcare today. They are the starting point for providing care and house data that can change a patient’s life. With the transformations happening in healthcare, it’s important to understand the role of EHRs.