What is an EHR?

An EHR is a digital copy of a patient's medical history that includes things like notes, current medications and past visit history. While the concept sounds simple, electronic health records are more complex than traditional health care documentation. Below introduces different key aspects of electronic health records.

What information does an electronic health record contain?

Electronic health records contain a variety of patient health data and information. This includes visit notes, diagnoses and progress notes from the doctor. Health care assistants, such as nurses, contribute vital signs and their own visit notes. Certain departments, such as radiology, upload x-ray images while labs provide test results. Health care administrative staff add billing, insurance and scheduling information. There is also previous medical history and personal demographic data included in electronic health records.

What are the Benefits?

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), electronic health records strengthen the relationship between patients and health care providers through providing critical data in an accurate and timely manner. In fact, the CMS states that electronic health records improve the patient care experience through reducing medical errors and increasing quality management. Most important, patients can automatically access their test results, order medication online and message their doctor. This saves time and money for both the patient and health care provider.

How are EHRs Accessed

Electronic health records come in different forms. Older forms use databases and local software packages while modern systems use cloud-based computing. Cloud-based technology allows the electronic health record to be stored online and accessed from anywhere, anytime. Health care providers from any department can simultaneously access and update the same patient file. On the other hand, patients are able to access their health record through insurance or health care providers' website. Health information is sensitive, confidential and protected by the federally mandated HIPPA law. According to the American Health Information Management Association, electronic health requires require the highest level of security. Fortunately, cloud-based computing offers excellent online security.

What are the differences between EHRs and EMRs?

Many people assume that electronic health records and electronic medical records are the same, but there are subtle differences. For example, EMR is an older term and primarily refers to just diagnoses and treatment documentation. On the other hand, an EHR encompasses many aspects beyond just medical science, such as fitness or psychology. Technically speaking, EMRs are documents that contain a patient's medical, medication and treatment history. These internal electronic records are primarily used by physicians to track and document patient visit data. Electronic health records encompass the integrated health of the patient. They are designed to act as a central sharing point between all health care professionals while providing the patient easy access to their own health information.

To summarize, electronic health records offer accurate and universally accessible medical information to both patients and providers. Electronic health records contain all aspects of a patient's medical file and allow the health care organization to improve the quality of care while lowering costs. Cloud-based electronic health records offer centralized convenience for all parties. If possible, ask your insurance or healthcare provider about your EHR and how you can access it today.

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