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Let's Talk Turkey.......EMR vs EHR?



EMR vs EHR?Do you know which documentation system is best for you?  As more and more clinics move toward converting their records into electronic medical files, some confusion has surfaced between the terms EMR and EHR.  Is there a difference?  Or a better question - Is the difference important?

In 2006 Dave Garets and Mike Davis prepared a provocative document, proposing definitions to distinguish between EMR and EHR.  Their document cited EMR (electronic medical record) as the records compiled within a group by those responsible for managing a patient's care.  It contains both inpatient and outpatient information recorded by the health care practioners involved in that patient's care.  When it becomes necessary for this information to be shared with other health care groups, an EMR becomes an EHR (electronic health record).  An EHR is considered to contain a composite history of a patient's past and current health care.  According to Garets and Davis, an EHR also contains input from the patient as well as lab and pharmacy data.

The point of encouraging the medical world to convert records into electronic data is to benefit the patient - to ensure accuracy, efficiency.....and save money.  Working as a physical therapist, I found adding a patient's input was automatic......and crucial to determining his plan of care.  Patient's input may be subjective, but it tells us why he/she came to therapy, the impact on their life, and overall status.  Standard documents in a patient record have always included laboratory results, medications, consults, and specialty services reports.  It's all a vital part of the patient history - EMR or EHR.  The total patient picture is the issue, not the label.  Electronic exchange of health care information is the future.  Don't be overwhelmed by the terms - both should allow for the exchange of health care information in a timely and cost efficient manner. 

When selecting a documentation system, consider your options.  Look for easy to use templates to enter data, quick access to claim and insurance info, security, and HIPAA compliance.  If you have a small to medium size practice, you may not need all the bells and whistles offered in the more expensive systems.  Look for a system that offers an opportunity to expand as your practice does.  Look for options to schedule appointments and issue assistive aides as braces and wraps.  Look for the best fit for you!

  Why do I need an EMR?

Diana welcomes your comments


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Diana Echert, PT Consultant

Jumping for PT DocTools

Diana is a licensed physical therapist whose experience spans inpatient and outpatient work in rehab, geriatrics, orthopedics and sports medicine.

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