The Major Differences Between EHRs and EMRs

The terms electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) are used interchangeably. Both types are records that contain patient data which is created, managed and stored electronically. Today’s electronic records are made to replace paper records that are more difficult to work with and less confidential. However, there are just as many differences as similarities between the two types of electronic records. Here are the main differences between EHRs and EMRs.

Uses and Complexity 

An EHR is more complex and comprehensive than an EMR. An EMR is used as a quick source of the most important information, such as diagnoses and treatments. An electronic health record contains more in-depth information about the patient’s medical history along with current doctor’s visits, diagnoses and treatments. The patient may travel to other states and countries, as well. Many EHRs contain details about dozens of medical providers, including specialists and surgeons, and all of the medical facilities that a single patient has visited.


An EHR is instantly accessible and designed to be shared within a large network of medical providers; however, an EMR is not designed for sharing. In fact, a paper record is more convenient to share than an EMR because it’s allowed to leave the practice. A paper record has to be printed out and mailed, faxed or delivered by hand, but for interoperable needs, it’s the better choice than the EMR.


EHR systems are more suited for tracking the patient’s current health status. There is no need to look up prior medical records. An EHR is used more often than an EMR and used to review instant updates to a patient’s record. An EMR can be updated regularly, but it’s used mainly to monitor major clinical events like checkups or lab results.

An EMR is a single, concise file that is more suitable for data extracting. Medical researchers use these records to extract data easily for their short- or long-term studies. They use the data to examine societal trends in diagnoses and treatments.

Overall, an electronic medical record is a brief snapshot of a patient’s demographic and clinical data. It’s used to gather information quickly, but it’s no substitute for an electronic health record. The EHR contains more information in greater details and can be shared with other doctors and among different medical facilities. It’s important for both medical providers and their patients to know the differences between EHRs and EMRS.

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