EHR vs. EMR: The Differences, Benefits, and Importance of Each


In the modern healthcare landscape, technology has revolutionized how patient information is managed and accessed. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are two of the most commonly used systems to store and manage patient information. While the terms EHR and EMR are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. In fact, there are important differences between the two that are worth understanding. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between an EMR vs. EHR and how both impact the healthcare industry as a whole.


What Is an EHR

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digital record of a patient’s health information and medical history. While the patient information of an EHR is important, the ability to share information between clinicians, hospitals, and patient care providers is what makes them especially crucial to healthcare. This makes up-to-date patient information instantly accessible to both providers and patients, helping close the gap in accessible health care. Additionally, EHRs are primarily used in larger healthcare organizations that need to send medical information to different providers or locations. EHRs provide information such as patient lab results, imaging reports, and medication lists to providers.  

What Is an EMR

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is very similar to an EHR except for one key difference—EMRs do not share information. An EMR is more of a digital version of a patient’s chart. The chart stays within one medical provider’s system, and there is more of a barrier to sending it to other healthcare professionals. EMRs are typically used in smaller healthcare organizations that don’t need to share information with one another, and they provide data such as a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medication, and treatment plans.

EHR vs. EMR: Benefits

Benefits of EHR

The main benefit of an EHR vs. EMR system is the capability of an EHR to share patient information. While this can help with better treatment decisions, it can also lead to enhanced coordination of care between providers. Additionally, an EHR can give patients more autonomy by allowing them to access their medical history at their leisure through a patient portal. EHRs also follow patients, so when they change healthcare providers their medical information will go with them, making it easier to receive treatment from a new physician.

As the technology improves, EHRs will phase out paper records completely and continue to reduce administrative tasks inherent in medical care. With this, patient safety will also improve because there will be fewer administrative errors such as inaccurate, incomplete, or missing medical records. Moreover, an EHR can alert providers about healthcare-related risks such as allergies and medication mixtures.

Benefits of EMR

Noticeably, EMRs lack the same patient information-sharing capabilities as EHRs. However, EMRs have benefits in their own right. For example, an EMR can be customizable to fit a particular healthcare organization’s needs, allowing for streamlined data management and patient information. Additionally, an EMR is more cost-effective than an EHR, making them accessible to smaller healthcare organizations. Finally, because EMR patient information is paperless and can only be accessed by authorized personnel, patient data is more secure and less prone to breaches.

EHR vs. EMR: Importance

According to the American Hospital Association, four in five office-based physicians and 96% of non-federal acute care hospitals have adopted a certified EHR. Alongside their growing importance for healthcare organizations, both EHRs and EMRs improve patient care, increase care coordination, enhance patient safety, manage population health, and improve efficiency and cost savings.  As EHRs and EMRs are now the standards, it will be imperative for healthcare providers to start sharing patient information to help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, COPD, and diabetic retinopathy. 

How the IRIS Solution Can Streamline Patient Care

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. However, through certain measures, it can be preventable. The IRIS solution provides healthcare organizations with the tools necessary to diagnose diabetic retinopathy by seamlessly integrating it into their EHR software.

After performing diabetic retinopathy screenings with fundus photography, an enhanced image of the retina is uploaded securely to the IRIS Reading Center (IRC). Here, a licensed eye care physician remotely screens the retina for signs of diabetic retinopathy. If signs are detected, the results are automatically sent back to a provider’s EHR, who can then properly refer the patient to a specialist for diabetic retinopathy treatment.

This streamlined process and the early detection benefits of the IRIS solution reduce the risk of sight loss by 90% in diabetic patients, closing the care gap and health risk for diabetes. Join in on the fight against preventable blindness. Contact us or schedule a demo to learn more about how the IRIS platform can help save the sight of over 15 million Americans.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do Hospitals Use EHR or EMR?

Hospitals may use either an EHR or EMR depending on their specific needs and preferences. While there are important differences between the two, both systems are designed to manage patient health information in a digital format.


An EHR is designed to provide a more comprehensive view of a patient’s health information, including data from multiple healthcare providers and organizations, and is often used in larger healthcare organizations, such as hospitals or health systems.


EMRs, on the other hand, are typically used within a single healthcare organization or provider that doesn’t need to share patient information with other providers or organizations.

What Is the Difference Between ERP and EMR?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are both software systems that healthcare organizations can use to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better patient care. However, they are designed to serve different purposes and functions within a healthcare organization.


An ERP system is designed to manage the day-to-day operations of a business or organization, including inventory and financial management, human resources, and patient billing. It provides a centralized platform for managing data and processes across an organization’s multiple departments and functions.


Conversely, an EMR system is designed to manage patient health information, including medical history, diagnoses, medications, and treatment plans. In a healthcare setting, an EMR system can ensure the quality of care provided to patients by offering access to accurate and up-to-date patient information to providers.

Is Epic an EMR or EHR?

Epic Systems is an EHR company that provides software solutions for healthcare organizations. Their EHR software is designed to manage and store patient health information in a digital format. The software includes features such as patient registration, electronic prescribing, clinical documentation, and scheduling, among others.


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