EMR vs. EHR – What Is the Difference?

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In the medical field, there are a lot of acronyms you need to keep straight. Two of these are EMR and EHR. While often used interchangeably, these two terms refer to separate concepts that each have a major impact on your medical practice.

What Is the Difference Between EMR and EHR?

Let’s start with what they stand for.

EMR: Electronic Medical Record

EHR: Electronic Health Record

On the surface, medical record and health record sound like synonyms, and there is certainly a lot that overlaps between the two terms. However, it is important to think about how the terms “medical” and “health” are different.

Medical specifically refers to medicine—clinicians diagnosing and treating conditions in patients. It’s an important but singular aspect of health.

Health represents the overall wellbeing of the patient, taking into account the mind, body, and spirit. It is a more holistic view when it comes to patient care.

When looking at electronic health record vs. electronic medical record, it is essentially a question of the scope you wish to cover. Are you looking to just focus on the medical side, or the patient as a whole?

EMR vs. EHR: Breaking it Down


Think of EMRs as the paper charts of the digital age. They list the medical and treatment history of patients at a single practice. EMRs help doctors:

  • Track data and trends over time
  • Identify which patients need screenings or follow-ups
  • Review basic health statistics
  • Assess the overall quality of treatment and practice performance

EMRs are limited in that they don’t look at all aspects of the patient. For example, if you are a podiatrist, your EMR likely won’t note if your patient is struggling with depression. However, this can have a major impact on how you should be treating them.

Another limitation of EMRs is that they don’t easily travel between practices. In most cases, the electronic record has to be printed and mailed to other practices for patient care coordination. This is slow, sloppy, and likely to introduce errors.


EHRs focus on the total health of the patient, allowing doctors to take a broader view of patient care and integrating all aspects into their treatment planning. Often tied into patient medical portals, they are collaborative, allowing the patient and other medical providers to contribute and update records in real-time. They also allow information to move with the patient rather than being tied to the practice.

If you are struggling with EMR integration into an EHR system, don’t worry. Sequence Health offers the right solutions for you. Contact them today to learn more about their patient-focused offerings.