EMR versus EHR

  • Electronic medical records (EMRs) are computerized patient records and charts, whereas electronic health records (EHRs) comprise this information as well as other information.
  • EHRs contain features for electronically prescribing prescriptions, ordering tests, improving internal and external communications, and exchanging data.
  • An EHR is typically included in modern medical software; the terms are frequently used interchangeably with EMRs.
  • This article is intended for medical practice owners who wish to know the distinction between EMR and EHR.

Electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs) are prominent terminologies in the medical field. These names are frequently used interchangeably. They do, however, pertain to several sorts of medical software solutions. We’ll go through the differences between EMRs and EHRs, as well as how they might affect your practice.

What’s the distinction between an EMR and an EHR?

EMRs are computerized reproductions of paper patient charts, which have long been essential in the medical profession. EHRs are more complete. They include solutions for improving electronic prescriptions, lab ordering, and telehealth capabilities in your clinic.

As a result, EHRs make multiple critical medical practice operations accessible through a single interface. With this configuration, you can read a patient’s whole medical history and swiftly shift to prescribing key medications. You can also communicate inside your practice using patient point-of-care systems, which record what happens on one day and provide it to practitioners who work the next day. EHR interoperability solutions also ensure that disparate practices communicate properly.

In summary, EHRs include patient charts as well as a variety of other technologies that a practice may employ to keep all practitioners and employees informed about a patient’s health and billing needs. Most medical experts, however, use the two phrases interchangeably.

The Most Important Thing

Although the terms EMR and EHR are sometimes used interchangeably, EMRs are actually more simplified forms of EHRs.

What exactly is an EMR?

An electronic medical record (EMR) is the digital equivalent of a practice’s paper patient charts and medical records. If your clinic uses an EMR system, your platform will house all of your patients’ medical information. You’ll also be able to view an individual patient’s chart before, during, or after an appointment for analysis. All information stored in your EMR is only accessible to your practice.

Most medical practitioners believe that EMRs are superior to patient charts because they make it easier to track a patient’s data over time. Many EMRs can also communicate with remote patient monitoring technologies to provide practitioners with real-time medical information on patients who need additional hands-on care. Most EMRs may also scan your charts for patients who require checks, screenings, or other appointments. As a result, there are no gaps in the practice.

What Did You Know?

Medical practice management systems, commonly known as PMS or PM software, can help to improve appointment scheduling and medical billing.

What exactly is an EHR?

An EHR system performs all of the functions of an EMR while preparing your clinic for development and improving internal and external communication. You can use an EHR to provide a continuous, timestamped record of patient care that all nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals can refer to. You will also receive interoperability tools, which will allow individuals outside your practice, including patients, to access medical data.

EHRs are appropriate for practices that want to involve as many people as possible in their patients’ treatment. EHRs enable you to send patient data from your practice to specialists involved in your patient’s treatment in real-time. They also assure that no data is lost if your patient moves out of your area and requires a new primary care physician. These characteristics make EHRs more patient-centric, whereas EMRs are more practice-centric.

You can also use EHRs to build a telemedicine program and prescribe drugs and lab testing without printing anything. Most EHRs will inform you before you complete the prescription if you prescribe drugs that may cause hazardous interactions. Without these warnings, you risk endangering your patients.

When should an EHR be used instead of an EMR?

Today, using EHR software entails having an interoperable platform that links with all points of care a patient may encounter. EHR use enhances patient care quality and the entire patient experience. EMR use, on the other hand, may only achieve the former. EMRs are undeniably superior to paper patient charts and medical records, however, they simply fill in the gaps in paper records. Meanwhile, EHRs enhance the whole patient experience.

Today, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requirements have pushed healthcare businesses to use interoperable medical software platforms, resulting in an increase in EHR usage and a decrease in the use of EMRs.

EMR and EHR Advantages

These are just a few of the countless advantages that EMRs and EHRs have for all medical practices.

1. EMRs and EHRs give detailed timelines of patients’ medical histories.

Because EHRs and EMRs are completely digital, each record includes a precise date and time. More crucially, with a single click or two, modern electronic devices can arrange all data chronologically. This function assists medical staff in promptly understanding patients’ current medical needs and providing appropriate care.

2. EMRs and EHRs enable patient participation.

When an electronic health system is implemented, the patient often has access to their own medical data, which is almost impossible with paper records and even more difficult with EMRs. This access can be useful if the patient needs to spend some time at home contemplating treatment options for a significant medical issue.

3. EMRs and EHRs make specialist involvement and transfers easier.

Your patients must bring hard copies of their medical records to specialist appointments when using paper records or EMRs. The same is true if your patient changes primary care physicians for any reason. EHRs solve this issue: Their interoperability solutions securely transfer patient data to other practices in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

4. Electronic medical records and electronic health records improve data security.

In terms of HIPAA, all leading EHR systems provide HIPAA-compliant medical record retention. Their data safety and security policies are compliant with federal government regulations, so you won’t have to worry about invading a patient’s privacy while providing thorough care. These data safeguards make it considerably more difficult for unscrupulous actors to access electronic patient data than paper documents.


Your practice’s medical device security should be a key focus. It is critical to effectively monitor and segment connected devices, as well as to ensure frequent software updates.

5. Speech-to-text tools are included in EMRs and EHRs.

When taking notes during patient encounters, both EHR and EMR systems support medical speech-to-text functionality. This function has various advantages, including more accurate charts and simplified medical invoicing.

6. Practice management technology is included in EHRs. 

Access to practice management systems is frequently included with EHR software. Several front-office procedures, such as scheduling appointments and registering patients, can be streamlined using PMS platforms. It can increase the efficiency of medical billing and collection by providing coders and billers with direct access to your clinical data. You may also create personalized reports to help enhance the financial success of your practice.

Although many medical software vendors charge different fees for EMR and PMS software, some include full EMR and PMS access for all paying users.


Use all available open time blocks and consider telemedicine appointments when scheduling patients in your medical practice to maximize doctors’ availability.

7. EMRs and EHRs eliminate clutter and mishandled records.

Paper records just do not work in fast-paced, emergency-heavy, high-volume environments like hospitals and private medical practices. Digital records address this issue. They reduce paper clutter. Because the practitioner’s notes are typed rather than handwritten, they are less likely to be misinterpreted. Digital recordkeeping is becoming the industry standard.

The most effective EMR and EHR software

The following are some of the greatest medical software platforms, which frequently include both EHR and PMS technologies. 

  • CareCloud is well-known for placing all of the tools you need at the top of your screen. Your trip through this platform will be similar to front-office registration and checkout. To discover more, see our CareCloud review.
  • DrChrono: DrChrono’s affordably priced EHR software has a remarkable breadth and feature set. When you choose DrChrono, you also get hands-on setup support, which is crucial because deploying EHR software can be intimidating. See our DrChrono review to learn how this vendor blends initial assistance with ongoing support.
  • AdvancedMD: AdvancedMD provides a la carte EHR and PMS features. This means you avoid cluttering your EHR with things you don’t need while also avoiding paying for unneeded extras. In our AdvancedMD review, we explain why we believe this service model is so valuable to practices of all sizes.
  • Athenahealth: If you require an EHR platform that can provide comprehensive, in-depth practice reports, Athenahealth is your best bet. When appropriate, you will also receive assistance from the vendor’s in-house experts to improve the financial performance of your business. More information on how this EHR provider prioritizes data and analytics may be found in our Athenahealth review.
  • Kareo: Among EHR platforms, Kareo stands out because accessing its easy interface is similar to scrolling through a social media feed. Kareo’s greatness stems from his familiarity. Therapists can also benefit from discounted pricing plans from the brand. Learn more about Kareo in our review.

EMR vs. EHR: Which Is Better? They are both distinct and similar.

You can do things using EHR platforms that aren’t doable with EMR technology alone. At the same time, EMR is a component of EHR; therefore, separating the two is somewhat misleading. Consider EHR as an apple and EMR as the core: the former cannot exist without the latter. More than that, the larger of the two is far preferable, and this is as true for cores and apples as it is for EMR vs. EHR.