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Practice Fusion · May 21, 2021

EHR (electronic health record) vs. EMR (electronic medical record)

EHR vs. EMR: what’s the difference?

Although some clinicians use the terms EHR and EMR interchangeably, the benefits they offer vary greatly. An EMR (electronic medical record) is a digital version of a chart with patient information stored in a computer and an EHR (electronic health record) is a digital record of health information.

Practice Fusion is a cloud-based EHR system that securely stores data on external servers and can be accessed with any device that has an internet connection, whereas server-based EHR systems store data on either a personal server or in a data center.

  1. Differences between EHR and EMR
  2. EMR (electronic medical record) Definition
  3. EHR (electronic health record) Definition
  4. EHR vs. EMR; usage trends
  5. EHR vs. EMR; the advantages
  6. EHR vs. EMR; the disadvantages
  7. EMR vs. EHR; the benefits

Differences between EHR and EMR

EHR (electronic health records) EMR (electronic medical records)
- A digital record of patient health information - A digital version of a chart
- Streamlined sharing with other providers and labs, etc. of updated, real-time information - Not designed to be shared outside the individual practice
- Allows a patient’s medical information to move with them - Patient record does not easily travel outside the practice
- Access to tools that providers can use for decision making - Mainly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment

What is the definition of an EMR (electronic medical record)?

The EMR, or electronic medical record, refers to everything you’d find in a paper chart, such as medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, and allergies. While EMRs work well within a practice, they’re limited because they don’t easily travel outside the practice. In fact, the patient’s medical record might even have to be printed out and mailed for another provider to see it.

What is the definition of an EHR (electronic health record)?

An EHR or electronic health record is a digital record of health information. It contains all the information you’d find in a paper chart — and a lot more. An EHR may include past medical history, vital signs, progress notes, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab data and imaging reports. It can also contain other relevant information, such as insurance information, demographic data, and even data imported from personal wellness devices.

Practice Fusion is a cloud-based EHR system that allows enables interoperability and the secure sharing of health information. It offers the opportunity to extend the capabilities available to health organizations in order to implement better ways of working and to offer new services to patients.

The power of an EHR lies not only in the data it contains, but how it’s shared – health information becomes instantly accessible to authorized providers across practices and health organizations, helping to coordinate care efficiently. An EHR can be shared with clinicians and organizations involved in a patient’s care, such as labs, specialists, imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics.


An EHR is necessary to meet Meaningful Use requirements. Meaningful Use is a Medicare and Medicaid program that supports the use of an EHR to improve patient care. To achieve Meaningful Use and avoid penalties on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, eligible providers must follow a set of criteria that serve as a roadmap for effectively using an EHR. CMS has renamed the Medicare Meaningful Use program into MIPS and the Medicaid program into Promoting Interoperability.

Using Practice Fusion enables you to meet the criteria for Meaningful Use so you can receive reimbursement.

EHRs are the future of healthcare because they provide critical data that can help coordinate care between all providers in the healthcare ecosystem.

While both EHR and EMR are commonly used terms, the term “EHR” (electronic health records) is now referenced more frequently. This is likely due to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC) preference for the term “EHR.”

When speaking of health care reform, CMS always uses the terminology, “meaningful use of an EHR.” The ONC exclusively uses the terms “EHR” and “electronic health records,” explaining that the word ‘health’ is more encompassing than the word ‘medical’. The term “Medical Records” implies clinician records for diagnosis and treatment, while the term “Health Records” more broadly denotes anything related to the general condition of the body. A Personal Health Record known as PHR is just that: personal. It is those parts of the EMR/EHR that an individual person “owns” and controls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85.9% of office-based physicians use any EMR/EHR system, while 79.7% use a certified EMR/EHR system.1

A fully functional EHR system goes beyond basic functionalities such as clinical notes and documentation. It incorporates more of your practice workflows. With a fully functional EHR, your practice is seamlessly integrated with other members of the healthcare community, helping to:

  • Improve coordination of care
  • Increase patient participation in care
  • Improve the quality of patient care
  • Increase efficiencies and cost savings for your practice

What are the advantages of an EHR versus an EMR?

  • Compared to paper records, a digital patient-record (EHR) system can add information management tools to help providers provide better care by more efficiently organizing, interpreting, and reacting to data.
  • EHR software can provide clinical reminder alerts, connect experts for health care decision support, and analyze aggregate data for both care management and research
  • The more interactive an EHR system is, the more it will prompt the user for additional information. This not only helps collect more data but also enhances their completeness.
  • EHRs are the future of healthcare because they provide critical data that informs clinical decisions, and they help coordinate care between all providers in the healthcare ecosystem.
  • EHR systems focus on the total health of the patient. EHR software is designed to reach out beyond the health organization that originally collects and compiles the information. They are built to share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care.
  • The information moves with the patient—to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, the next state or even across the country. EHR systems are designed to be accessed by all people involved in the patient’s care—including the patient.


Practice Fusion is a cloud-based EHR system and offers an affordable, turnkey solution that is considered one of the most user-friendly EHRs available. For only $149 per provider, per month, Practice Fusion can help your practice meet regulations, electronically prescribe controlled substances, and integrate patient records with laboratories and imaging centers.

Practice Fusion can help you and your staff save time and improve clinical efficiency. You’ll also get all the support you need for no extra or hidden charges. Practice Fusion’s expert support staff stands ready to assist with training and issues if they arise.


While there are many advantages to having an EMR or EHR system, there are some disadvantages as well.

  • They are typically much more expensive to implement initially, as providers must invest in the proper hardware, training and support on top of the software.
  • Unless properly built, there’s also the chance the system will malfunction, destroy all data.

What are the benefits of an EHR versus an EMR?

The EHR is the future of healthcare because they provide critical data that can help coordinate care between everyone in the healthcare ecosystem. An EHR has the following benefits over an EMR:

  • Health information and data. The system holds what‘s normally in a paper chart – problem lists, ICD-10 codes, medication lists, test results.
  • Results management. An EHR lets you receive lab results, radiology reports, and even X-ray images electronically while ensuring tests are not duplicated.
  • Order entry. No more prescription pads. All your orders are automated using secure e-prescribing technology.
  • Decision support. Offer access to evidence-based tools to support clinical decisions. An EHR is smart enough to warn you about drug interactions, help you make a diagnosis, and point you to evidence-based guidelines when you’re evaluating treatment options.
  • Electronic communications and connectivity. You can talk in cyberspace with patients, your medical assistant, referring doctors, hospitals, and insurers—securely. Interoperability is the key word as you streamline your workflow by interfacing with other providers, labs, imaging centers, and payers.
  • Patient support. Engage your patients by allowing to them to receive educational material via the EHR and enter data themselves through online questionnaires and home monitoring devices.
  • Administrative processes. The system lends a hand with practice management and helps avoid delays in treatments. Patients can schedule their own appointments and staffers can check on insurance eligibility.
  • Reporting and population health management. How many patients did you treat for tuberculosis in 2014 How many of your diabetics have their HbA1c under 7? An EHR can provide the answers, thanks to a searchable database.


In order to capture and share patient data efficiently, providers need an EHR that stores data in a structured format. Structured data allows patient information to be easily retrieved and transferred and allows the provider to use the EHR in ways that can aid patient care.

Regardless if providers and vendors use the terms, “Electronic Medical Record” or “EMR” when talking about Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology, for the purposes of the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs, eligible professionals must use certified EHR technology or CEHRT.

Practice Fusion is 100% certified EHR technology (CEHRT).


Choosing a fully integrated EHR goes beyond just the features — you’ll need to evaluate the costs, required hardware, the complexity of implementation, and the available training and support. Learn more about how to choose an EHR.


Improving clinician workflows and practice efficiencies passes the benefits of the EHR on to patients. Quality of care and patient satisfaction improves as clinicians become more efficient in their daily tasks. Spending less time charting allows for more time to do what matters most: care for your patients.

Practice Fusion can provide an affordable EHR solution for small and independent practices. Its cloud-based EHR platform enables clinicians to comply with electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) regulations, qualify for meaningful use reimbursement, and integrate patient records with labs and imaging centers.

An easy-to-use EHR like Practice Fusion, can help reduce clinician burnout due to time spent maintaining paper charts or working with cumbersome, hard-to-use software. Most importantly, Practice Fusion can help improve interoperability and contribute toward a better quality of care and patient experience. Your practice is our purpose.


  1. 2021. FastStats. Available at: Accessed 29 April 2021.

Practice Fusion is a streamlined and efficient EHR system designed for independent practices like yours. Start your free 14-day trial today!