It’s common for those in the rehab therapy space to use the terms EMR (electronic medical record) and EHR (electronic health record) as interchangeably as we may use terms like telehealth and telemedicine. But, just as the latter terms differ in subtle yet important ways, EMRs and EHRs represent systems that are distinct in both use and functionality.
In fact, the differences between EMRs and EHRs are, by definition, quite significant. Take a look at why these differences are important for rehab therapists, in particular.
What is an EMR?
An electronic medical record (EMR) is the digital version of what a provider would likely collect from a traditional paper patient chart. An EMR contains the medical and treatment history of patients from one practice, including the patient’s lab results, imaging, provider notes, immunization records, diagnoses, and more.
EMRs help providers track patient data over time, monitor functional improvements throughout treatment, and quickly identify when patients are due for an appointment. They are primarily used by clinicians and therapists within the practice for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment.
Originally, EMRs were mostly designed for internal purposes, making information difficult to share outside the practice. While these days, patient data can be more easily exported and transferred from an EMR, the ability to integrate data and functionality with other tools tends to be more limited when compared with EHRs.
What is an EHR?
An electronic health record (EHR) offers a comprehensive overview of a patient’s health in a digital format.
Unlike EMRs, EHRs focus on the holistic care of the patient, looking beyond the standard clinical data collected in one provider’s office and capturing a broader view of the patient’s care journey. EHRs enable authorized providers to access patients’ clinical information from just about anywhere.
Rather than the time-consuming processes of sharing and having to reimport patient information into a new system if or when a new providing entity becomes part of a patient’s healthcare journey, EHRs strive for greater integration, making such transitions more seamless for providers and patients.
Compared with an EMR, an EHR strives to be a wider-reaching software that includes features such as patient portals, archiving, patient outcomes and engagement tools, population health, and so on.
Why is This Distinction Important for Rehab Therapists?
Rehab therapy is largely collaborative. When a therapist sets out to create the optimal plan of care (POC) for a patient, it’s likely they will need to communicate with the patient’s primary care doctor or specialist first. If that POC is updated at some point, it often must be sent to and signed by a clinician.
This is where the functionality of EHRs truly shines.
EHRs have been specifically designed to seamlessly exchange information. Many solutions were also created to be managed and accessed by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization, as defined by the National Alliance for Health Information Technology.1
They have been built for collaboration with other healthcare providers, whether that be specialists, laboratories, or even other therapy providers. The ability to access patient PHI in a safe, secure manner allows rehab therapists to streamline and elevate patient care.
What Should Rehab Therapists Look for in an EHR Solution?
Electronic health records are by far a simpler and more effective format for rehab therapists to store and share patient information. But reader be warned: not all EHR solutions are made with the particular needs of physical, occupational and rehab therapists in mind.
Net Health Therapy for Clinics is an EHR that’s tailored to the therapy market.
This EHR solution allows for meaningful interactions with providers and patients alike, which can be achieved via features like a patient portal and a secure internal messaging system. Our solutions also integrate easily with other systems in the clinic to increase productivity, eliminate duplicate data, and generally improve the client-clinic experience.
With add-on features like Patient Engagement Marketing and FOTO, an outcomes management program, it’s never been simpler for therapists to enhance retention and compliance while increasing reimbursement and revenue. Discover the difference when you schedule a demo today.
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1 Department of Health and Human Services, “Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms,” April 28, 2008