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Electronic health record (EHR). Electronic medical record (EMR). While some might use the terms interchangeably, the difference between an EMR and EHR is greater than just the middle letter in their acronyms.

What is an Electronic Medical Record (EMR)?

An EMR is a digital version of a person’s paper chart or medical record. It is the information captured at a care provider’s office. It contains information provided to and gathered by a single healthcare provider, and often includes patient data, diagnosis, and treatment. While they are available electronically, EMRs are really just electronic replicas of a single care provider’s paper records.

What is the Difference Between an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and an Electronic Medical Record (EMR)?

The ability to share complete information instantly is one of the main differences between an EMR and an EHR. An EMR captures information from a single care provider, which is only available to that one care provider. However, EHRs are designed to be used by multiple care providers and healthcare organizations.

Another difference is the ability of multiple care providers to not only share patient information but to contribute to EHRs. This facilitates sharing accurate data over time. Without EHRs, patients and/or care providers would still bear the administrative burden of arranging the transfer of the medical records to another care provider or multiple care providers. The receiving care providers then bear the additional administrative steps of ensuring the new information is integrated into their copy of the patients’ records.

The EHR automates direct access to these more complete records, making it much easier to gain a full picture of a person’s health status and history. This more complete picture means there are benefits of EHRs for patients, providers, and the healthcare industry.

Health OS: Expanding EHRs into Longitudinal Patient Records (LPRs)

With EHRs being used by 90% of care providers, how will the next generation of this technology facilitate even higher quality of care and improved health outcomes?

Imagine a care provider reviewing an EHR when an alert to potential gaps in care appears. Instead of making the care provider access a different system to view the alert details, they can see it in the EHR. In addition to the alert, the care provider receives patient insights from responsible artificial intelligence (RAI). That’s not all: The EHR is fed usable information from traditionally complex and siloed data like admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) notifications. The EHR also allows the care provider to access insights into social drivers of health that help the care provider to get a more holistic picture of that person’s health and well-being.  

That vision has become reality through Health OS, — a payer-agnostic, clinical data platform — that better enables care providers to deliver exceptional care experiences through their current EHR system. Its design allows it to connect directly with EHRs, health information exchanges (HIEs), third-party data aggregators, and immunization registries. Integrating all these data sources creates a new standard: longitudinal patient records (LPRs).

What does this look like in practice? Let’s say Bayani sees Dr. Kim, his primary care physician, after treatment in a hospital for significant gastrointestinal concerns. Dr. Kim reads hospital test results in Bayani’s EHR before prescribing a sleep aid Bayani requested. Because the EHR is connected to Health OS, Dr. Kim immediately receives an alert showing a potential contraindication for that particular medication as well as recommended alternatives, which she then prescribes instead.

She also gets an alert to discuss Bayani’s support system for recovery since his discharge record shows he is living alone in a rural area. Dr. Kim talks to him about getting help from his adult children who live 20 miles away, and they discuss his understanding of the directions to take his necessary medications and how to prepare or purchase nutritious food.

If she had been using an EMR, Dr. Kim would be relying only on what Bayani reports at his visit regarding his hospital treatment and would not have instant access to his tests and discharge records. The doctor would not have a complete look at Bayani’s treatment that happened outside of her care. A longitudinal patient record uses AI-based insights to cross-check a wide range of factors in the EHR and alerts Dr. Kim to those she might want to address to help Bayani achieve his best health.

Health OS and LPRs facilitate more complete and timely clinical data sharing and insight from communication between care provider and patient to improve care while reducing administrative burdens. Health OS is connected to almost 200 health systems with a continued focus on increasing connectivity to all major health systems. 

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