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EHR vs. EMR – What’s the Difference?


Electronic records for patients are part of a modern practice, setting them up and maintaining a mental health EHR is a vital part of accountability and providing continuity of care. However, people get confused when it comes to differentiating an Electronic Health Record from an Electronic Medical Record. They sound very similar, but they are different documents.

Electronic Health Record

Electronic Medical Record

A full digital record of all health information

Analogous to a patient’s chart

Shared between providers on a patient’s care team

Used inside a practice and is exclusive to that practice

Makes full medical information portable

Not designed to be shared with other practitioners

Used for coordination among providers

Used for keeping track of diagnosis and treatments

Contains medical information such as lab reports, imaging,

specialists, and pharmacy prescriptions

Used for patient’s historical information such as allergies, immunization records, and other information

As you can see, the EMR is the information that is generated internally by the practice, and is like a patient’s hard copy chart that a doctor brings into the exam room. The EHR is the information that a practice shares with other care providers who are all treating the same patient.

Managing a patient means that you’re “in the room” with both documents, but there are elements that you also want to keep private in the case of generating a mental health EHR. It’s critical to use an up-to-date, HIPAA compliant software to manage your practice’s EHR needs.

Currently, mental health is coming out of the shadows, and it’s more important than ever to manage records and coordinate care. With as many as one in five Americans living with some degree of mental illness – including substance abuse – practices have more reasons than ever to keep accurate clinical records in an open and transparent way.

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