EHR vs. EMR Software Systems
The HealthRecord.US team has observed that the terms Electronic Medical Record and Electronic Health Record are often used interchangeably by software vendors and providers. In fact, they are considered to be one the same by most in the medical industry. The former was the more common term until the past two years – now EHR is becoming the default in our vocabulary.
It is due largely to the ONC’s strong stance that there is a difference at all. The ONC proclaims an EHR as the proper term for a system that that can be used by all involved in a patient’s care, including the patient themself. They proclaim interoperabilty as a key differentiator – the ability to share data electronically with other clinics, hospitals, labs, nursing facilities, pharmacies, and others as appropriate.
EHR Software Overview
These systems first replaced paper charts with an identical electronic document version. Problems, allergies, medications, notes, and other critical details were stored first in documents and then in lists within databases. The systems have evolved to new include features intended to help the provider deliver a higher level of patient care.
Automated Decision Support. Protocols can be built to notify a health care provider when specific tests are due or how a medication might interact with a patient’s allergy.
Patient Registries. Quick reporting capablities can allow health care organizations to view patient populations as a panel. Outcomes can be measured and managed across the popluation. Outliers can be flagged to receive needed attention.
Secure Clinical Messaging. Providers can communicate securely with their patients, and the communication could be automatically included in the chart documentation as appropriate. Also, care coordination can be improved when chart summaries are sent securely following a referral.
Electronic Order Management. Orders can be sent securely, and the returned results can be matched to the initiating order. This allows the primary care provider to quickly see and review results for their patient and also to identify patient compliance issues.
Future of the Industry
The HealthRecord.US research group is optimistic about current innovation in the EHR software market. Competition is very intense and vendors are working to come up with key strengths that differentiate their product in the market place. We expect to see a greater integration with Health Information Exchanges, where information relevant to a doctor’s patient is pushed to their chart for the provider to review. We also anticipate the proliferation of patient portals, finally allowing patients to see all their health care data in one place, and to schedule appointments and pay bills. These technologies are available now, but not widely implemented. Great adaption will be driven by requirements in the Meaningful Use regulations.
Selecting a Vendor
Evaluating vendors can be an exciting process, but also intimidating, as more than 500 software systems are now in the marketplace. To aid hospitals and clinics in the discovery process, the HealthRecord.US site offers a tool for requesting quotes and information from pre-qualified EHR vendors.
Between 4-6 vendors – that serve your region, organization type, and specialty – will respond with comparison data, which can give your evaluation process a tremendous jumpstart.
Compare EHR systems now with our free tool for comparing EMR quotes and capabilities. Help us understand your specific needs by answering the questions below: