HIMSS Analytics provides clarity on the meaning of these terms:
- Electronic Medical Record: An application environment composed of the clinical data repository, clinical decision support, controlled medical vocabulary, order entry, computerized provider order entry, pharmacy, and clinical documentation applications. This environment supports the patient s electronic medical record across inpatient and outpatient environments, and is used by healthcare practitioners to document, monitor, and manage health care delivery within a care delivery organization (CDO). The data in the EMR is the legal record of what happened to the patient during their encounter at the CDO and is owned by the CDO.
- Electronic Health Record: A subset of each care delivery organization’s EMR, presently assumed to be summaries like ASTM s Continuity of Care Record (CCR) or HL7 s Continuity of Care Document (CCD), is owned by the patient and has patient input and access that spans episodes of care across multiple CDOs within a community, region, or state (or in some countries, the entire country). The EHR in the US will ride on the proposed National Health Information Network (NHIN). The EHR can be established only if the electronic medical records of the various CDOs have evolved to a level that can create and support a robust exchange of information between stakeholders within a community or region. While some forms of early EHRs exist today in limited environments, it will be difficult to establish effective EHRs across the majority of the US market until we have established clinical information transaction standards that can be easily adopted by the different EMR application architectures now available.
John at "EMR and HIPAA" argues that this distinction is irrelevant and that these terms will always be used interchangeably. He writes:
"My favorite in the EMR world is when people go crazy if you use the term EMR and not EHR. Let’s just get over it. The doctors I talk to really are. They use them interchangeably to mean everything that you might technically consider an EHR."
What do you think?