As the US healthcare system transitioned from paper to digital record keeping the use of EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and EHR (Electronic Health Records) has become increasingly popular in recent years. Although both these terms have become widely synonymous, leading to confusion they actually serve different purposes.

Let us in this article explore the differences between these two digital records and their intrinsic qualities.

What is an EMR?

EMR is an application used by healthcare providers to store, organize and access the patient’s clinical data for a particular healthcare practice. Electronic Medical Records are simply the digital version of a patient’s chart. Generally, it contains the diagnosis and treatment information made by a single clinician and is accessible only to the healthcare professionals and staff within the practice.

What is an EHR?

EHR is a patient-centric application that stores long-term and aggregate health information from one or more encounters in any healthcare setting. Electronic Health Records are more robust than EMRs in the sense they contain information from all clinicians involved in treating the patient. EHR also facilitates the sharing of health-related information with other healthcare providers, specialists, laboratories, and pharmacies.


The key to understanding the differences between these two lies in the words “medical” and “health”. An EMR is just a snapshot of the patient’s medical history, while the EHR entails a comprehensive record of the patient’s overall health. In short, an EHR does everything an EMR does. Or in other words, an EHR contains all information in the EMR and more.

EMRs are not meant to be shared outside the clinical practice. Hence the information contained in the EMR doesn’t travel outside the practice. However, EHRs are designed in such a way they can be shared with other healthcare providers, specialists, and laboratories. Hence, they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care.

The difference between Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records is just one word, yet it makes a whole lot of difference in its purpose and functionality. However, both of these systems are specially designed to help healthcare providers deliver quality care to the patients while being able to streamline the workflow and improve clinical practice efficiency.

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