What is the difference: EMR vs EHR?

What is the difference: EMR vs EHR?

There is much mystery surrounding EMR vs EHR. Marketers often use the term interchangeably. Though, if we look at the two independently, there are critical differences that must be denoted. In perspective, they act in a very similar manner regarding the storage of patient data and information. EHRs, however, have more breadth and depth.

Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

There are four main functions of an electronic medical record (EMR). They are as follows:

  • Track patient data and information over time
  • Identify and be notified of patients due for preventative visits or screenings
  • Monitor whether or not patients are meeting certain parameters such as vaccinations and blood work
  • Improve the overall quality of care by increasing accuracy, efficiency, and accountability


The EMR contains notes and other information collected by clinicians for that specific practice, clinic, or hospital. Any information stored in an EMR is not easily shared with other medical professionals or institutions. This is certainly adequate for some medical professionals, while others may look to an EHR.

Electronic Health Record (EHR)

An electronic health record (EHR), on the other hand, are much more complex and go beyond the scope of one single specialists, clinician, doctor, etc. Rest assured, an EHR also fulfills the ‘roles’ stated above.

EHRs offer a much more inclusive and broader view of a specific patient’s medical history and current information. EHRs are built to hold information from all the clinicians involved in a patient’s care! In some cases, an EHR is even accessible by the patients themselves. Electronic Health Records follow the patient wherever he or she goes – to the emergency room, hospital, surgery center, specialist, laboratory, and beyond. The comprehensive and complied data in the EHR is meant to be shared, and to have multiple points of access.

Electronic Health Records contain information such as:

  • Contact information
  • Information about visits to health care professionals
  • Allergies
  • Insurance information
  • Family history
  • Immunization status
  • Information about any conditions or diseases
  • A list of medications
  • Records of hospitalization
  • Information about any surgeries or procedures performed


EMR vs EHR … which do I need?

The debate surrounding EMR vs EHR is tricky, and there are few regulations mandating which one clinicians employ.

In general, you should turn to an EHR especially if you are in a general field of practice, where critical information you collect is desired by other sectors of the health industry. If you have a specific speciality and all diagnoses and treatments are noteable between your practice and the patient, then a simple EMR may be best.