EMR vs EHR: What’s the Difference and Which Electronic Record is Right for Me?

In the behavioral health industry, the terms EMR and EHR are both frequently used. Clinicians often use one term or the other, or perhaps both interchangeably, to describe electronic record systems. But what is the difference between EMR and EHR software?

How Much of a Difference Can One Letter Make?

Electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) are both terms used to describe electronic records used by clinicians. Though they may sound similar and be used to refer to similar software solutions, the two terms in fact refer to systems with differing scopes and functionality.

An EMR is best understood as the digital version of a patient’s record, that is to say a representation of one patient’s chart at one facility. Electronic medical records, in the original meaning of the term, are not meant to be shared between different treatment centers.

Meanwhile, EHR systems accomplish just that. While they also consist of a digital version of a patient’s chart, EMR, they allow practitioners to use ancillary services like laboratory information systems and eRx (E-prescribing), to more easily share demographics and diagnostic codes between systems to gather results and prescriptions into one patient record. This functionality allows professionals to get the most up-to-date information on a patient’s care in order to best treat their substance use disorder. As Medical Directors are not present 24/7, having the ability to review and place orders remotely is a plus for a patient’s continuity of care.

Advantages and Disadvantages of EMR and EHR Software

EMRs and EHRs both have distinct advantages over traditional paper systems used by clinicians in the past. Our August post “Data & Disease: How Smart EMR Systems Improve Patient Outcomes” outlines some of the ways these systems can help providers. Some of these advantages include allowing practitioners to:

    • Identify Diseases Early – Smart EMR and EHR systems can study the correlations between symptoms and determine whether patients are experiencing the early stages of certain diseases. This aids the medical and clinical teams in establishing treatment plans to address those diseases before they get out of hand.
  • Prevent Diseases Entirely – Besides finding diseases in their early stages, electronic records can assist in determining whether patients are likely to develop a disease based on other health factors. They can then help patients avoid contracting that disease.

Still, the record-sharing nature of EHRs can give them several advantages over EMRs. For example, the instant access to medical records can streamline specialist services. Where before a patient may be referred out to a specialist and that specialist not have their records, an EHR can allow the specialist to access the patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and lab results through a summary report.

Value-added features like eFax help to bridge the gap between professionals such as medical directors and primary care physicians and provide the highest quality care possible.

So What Software is Right for Me?

In reality, most top medical software packages now fit both descriptions, allowing facilities to store patients’ information while also offering features that allow them to safely share and access relevant patient information. Top behavioral health tech companies may use “EMR” or “EHR,” or perhaps both interchangeably.

AZZLY, Inc.® is a U.S.-based healthcare software company that specializes in serving professionals in behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment. With AZZLY Rize™, clinicians can accomplish scheduling, medical documentation, administration, eRx, labs, and more all-in-one easy-to-use software. With a complete system, they can get back valuable time spent on paperwork and invest more in their face-to-face time with patients.

Contact AZZLY to instantly receive free video demonstrations of the AZZLY Rize software, or schedule a time with one of AZZLY’s industry professionals for a live guided demonstration personalized to your facility’s needs. Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on educational pieces such as this and breaking industry news.

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