Many people do not realize there are differences between an electronic medical record (EMR), electronic health record (EHR), and a personal health record (PHR). I myself am guilty of often using the terms EHR and EMR interchangeably. There are, however, some defining differences that set these health and medical records apart.
Wikipedia has this to say about the topic:
The terms EHR, EPR (electronic patient record) and EMR (electronic medical record) are often used interchangeably, although differences between them can be defined. The EMR can, for example, be defined as the patient record created in hospitals and ambulatory environments, and which can serve as a data source for the EHR. It is important to note that an EHR is generated and maintained within an institution, such as a hospital, integrated delivery network, clinic, or physician office, to give patients, physicians and other health care providers, employers, and payers or insurers access to a patient’s medical records across facilities.
A personal health record (PHR) is, in modern parlance, generally defined as an EHR that the individual patient controls.
Electronic Medical Record
An electronic medical record (EMR) is a computerized medical record created in an organization that delivers care, such as a hospital or physician’s office. Electronic medical records tend to be a part of a local stand-alone health information system that allows storage, retrieval and modification of records.
An electronic medical record (or electronic medical patient record) is the collective term for the chart and all documentation recorded while taking care of a patient. In hospitals that are completely on electronic medical records, this will be the location of pretty much all data related to a patients healthcare. This is to be viewed by healthcare staff on a need-only basis. The purpose of electronic medical records is to document care provided and communicate orders, results, and other values to any healthcare provider that requires the information while caring for a patient. This data is protected by HIPAA laws an access is limited to only the staff caring for the patient.
The patient does not have direct access to their electronic medical record during their hospitalization. They can, however, request copies of their records and healthcare organizations have to comply with meeting these demands in a reasonable manner.
There are many electronic medical record vendors that create and support electronic medical record systems that aids in the delivery of patient care in both the acute, long-term, ambulatory, and home care settings (just to name a few).
Electronic Health Record
An electronic health record (EHR) is an evolving concept defined as a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations. It is a record in digital format that is theoretically capable of being shared across different health care settings. In some cases this sharing can occur by way of network-connected enterprise-wide information systems and other information networks or exchanges. EHRs may include a range of data, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies,immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal stats like age and weight, and billing information
An electronic health record (or electronic healthcare record) is a record that a patient can access and have information from healthcare providers and organizations sent to an online location that a patient can access at their leisure. This concept works and theory but because of the many different programming languages that exist, EMR and HER don’t always play nice with each other. This is improving drastically. With the Meaningful Use or ARRA initiative, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are going to have to meet the needs of patients having easy access to their medical records by providing those patients with patient portals which will be EHRs that would contain all your health information from one healthcare system.
Personal Health Record
A personal health record, or PHR, is a health record where health data and information related to the care of a patient is maintained by the patient. This stands in contrast with the more widely used electronic medical record, which is operated by institutions (such as a hospital) and contains data entered by clinicians or billing data to support insurance claims. The intention of a PHR is to provide a complete and accurate summary of an individual’s medical history which is accessible online. The health data on a PHR might include patient-reported outcome data, lab results, data from devices such as wireless electronic weighing scales or collected passively from a smartphone.
Basically, this is a record of personal health that is maintained by a patient. These are great tools to help improve care across the continuum and really can empower a patient to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and overall wellness. Northern Illinois University published an article that states “The potential value of this secure electronic exchange and sharing of confidentially protected information can be both cost‐ and time‐efficient and increase compliance in managing acute or chronic conditions and/or health maintenance activities to stay on track with preventive health programs.”
Continuity is Key!
In order for patients to get the best healthcare possible, it is vital that we work hard towards the goal of having all these forms of health and medical records be able to communicate with one another. The patient needs to be just as involved in their own healthcare as those providing that care.
This is one of the many examples that display the importance of nursing informatics. Without having rededicated and passionate nurses in IT, these dreams do not become a reality.
While many people feel that we are in the age of the Obama electronic medical record, there are some truly wonderful outcomes that can and likely will come as hospitals, other healthcare organizations, and patients themselves start to get with the electronic program.
Personally, I get very excited to think about all the possibilities that are at our fingertips in healthcare right now. And I get ever more excited about the tools that will be available to both patients and healthcare providers in the very near future.