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While the terms electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) are often confused, they actually mean different things. An EHR is an encapsulated summary of a patient’s chart, while an EMR is a patient’s complete medical history in detail. EHRs are for sharing between providers. All that matters is that the provider be an authorized user. EMRs are the detailed records of a specific provider, such as a doctor, dentist or nurse practitioner with regard to a particular patient and are the sole property of that provider.
Electronic medical records offer considerable improvement over paper records. Processing electronic records through software applications takes far less time and effort than doing it manually. It is much easier to drill down to the details, which means improved data tracking. Better use can then be made of the information.
EHRs enable the sharing of information in real time and provides precise data to assist providers in the decision making process while, at the same time, lowering the risk of missing or out of date information. It’s actually quite easy for paperwork to get misplaced and anyone who has worked in an even slightly complex organization has heard such terms as “lost in the filing cabinet” or “buried in the bureaucracy.” A patient’s history becomes more clear and precise. This enables better tracking of the patient’s situation resulting in preventative checkups and on time reminders for renewal of prescriptions and screenings. There is no need to decipher poor handwriting and forms can be kept in an orderly manner.
EMR and EHR create an environment where medical information is presented in a user friendly manner. Electronic health records also reduce cost by making healthcare more accurate and avoiding mistakes that can raise malpractice insurance rates. But, one of the most important aspects of EMR and EHR is that the rapid feedback throughout the healthcare process enables greater patient participation. The patient is no longer as isolated within the medical care system and can be informed in an up to date manner. This means that the patient is more able to take responsibility for his or her health and treatment outcomes.
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