What is an EMR (Electronic Medical Record)?
Electronic Medical Record Definition:
An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of all the information you’d typically find in a provider’s paper chart: medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab results and doctor’s notes. EMRs are online medical records of the standard medical and clinical data from one provider’s office, mostly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment. Comprehensive and accurate documentation of a patient’s medical history, tests, diagnosis and treatment in EMRs ensures appropriate care throughout the provider’s clinic.
EMRs are more than just a replacement for paper records. They effectively allow communication and coordination among members of a healthcare team for optimal patient care.
Its natural evolution began in the 1960s when we began to see “problem-oriented” medical records (like we understand them today) instead of just the diagnosis and treatment a doctor provided. This was the first time that third party facilities were able to independently verify the diagnosis.
With the dawn of the computer era, many of the earliest computer applications were in use at hospitals but few other places. Computers gained traction in smaller facilities and clinics at the same time computers were gaining traction with the general public. With the internet, change became far more visible, and the internet became an essential tool for recording and transferring medical records.
As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, all public and private healthcare providers were required to demonstrate “meaningful use” of EMRs by January 1, 2014.
“Meaningful use”, as defined by HealthIT.gov, would achieve the following:
- Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduces health disparities
- Engage patients and families
- Improve care coordination and public health
- Maintain privacy and security of patient health information
You can learn more about meaningful use in our What is Meaningful Use article.
Although patient medical records are more comprehensive and accessible than ever before, refinements and system upgrades are continually enhancing clinic workflow and doctor-patient interactions.
What is the Difference Between an EMR and an EHR?
While an EMR contains comprehensive information and records of the patient’s history with one provider, an electronic health record (EHR) contains all of this and it is sharable amongst authorized providers, health organizations and clinics. An EHR goes beyond the information from just one provider and includes a comprehensive patient history which can be shared amongst all providers to help coordinate care for the patient. EMR and EHR systems are both beneficial tools for clinics – below are some of the key differences between EMR and EHR systems.
|A digital version of a patient chart||A digital record of all patient health information|
|Patient record does not easily travel outside the practice and might need to be printed||Allows a patient’s medical information to move with them to other health care providers and specialists|
|Mainly used by a provider for diagnosis, treatment and care||Accessed by any number of providers for decision making, diagnosis and care beyond one provider’s office|
Both are necessary on the continuum of care for a patient. The EMR provides a comprehensive record of care within a practice and the EHR makes that care accessible to a variety of healthcare providers, even hospitals, if and when needed.
The Advantages of an EMR
Benefits of EMRs for PATIENTS:
- Fewer errors on medical records
- Quicker assessment and care from medical professionals
- Data and results are tracked over time
- Improved health diagnosis, treatment and overall quality of care
- Identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings
- Enhanced privacy and security of patient data
- Reduction in patient errors and improved patient care
- Enable evidence-based decisions at point of care
- Follow-up information after a visit such as self-care instructions, reminders for other follow-up care, and links to web resources
- Access to patient’s own records to view medications and keep up with lifestyle changes that have improved their health
Benefits of EMRs for CLINICS:
- Save space by eliminating paper records needing to be stored, managed and retrieved
- Optimize workflow and increased number of patients served per day
- Reduce administrative difficulties and operational costs
- Interface easily with hospitals, pharmacies, labs and state health systems
- Customizable and scalable electronic records
- Gather and analyze patient data that enables outreach to discreet populations
- Provide clinical alerts and reminders
- Improve documentation and coding
- Enhance research and monitoring for improvements in clinical quality
- Provide built-in safeguards against prescribing treatments that would result in adverse events
- Track electronic messages to staff, other clinicians, hospitals, labs, etc.
- Links to public health systems such as registries and communicable disease databases
EMRs don’t just contain information they “compute” it by beneficially manipulating the information.
- The EMR automatically checks for problems whenever a new medication is prescribed to a patient and alerts potential conflicts with the patient’s other medications or health conditions.
- EMRs can help providers quickly and systematically identify and correct operational problems. In a paper-based setting, identifying such problems is much more difficult, and correcting them can take years.
Beyond the improved systems and quality of care for patients, there are also financial advantages to EMRs. A clinic’s operational costs and overtime labor expenses are reduced due to the overall efficiency of workflow. Additionally, the ability to more accurately and efficiently process patient billing improves the clinic’s bottom line.
Any disadvantages of electronic medical records are not necessarily in the system itself, but in the initial (and natural) challenges of investment, preparation and training in the system.
What Is An EMR System?
EMR systems provide a wide range of functionality and user interfaces, and become the hub of all clinical activity in the office. The EMR system is used daily for processing payment and insurance claims, scheduling patients, sharing information with other staff within the clinic, adding new patients, as well as updating and recording patient information. EMR software systems also enable clinics to seamlessly integrate the regulatory and reimbursement changes of Meaningful Use attestation, ICD-10 and HIPAA 5010 requirements.
Implementation of an EMR system is custom to each clinic based on clinic needs, customization requirements, clinic staff availability, and the SMR software staff availability. Each implementation has its own timeline with a dedicated implementation specialist assigned to your clinic and he or she will help guide you through the entirety of your project.
About athenaPractice EMR
The athenaPractice EMR earns the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for EMR software supported by customizable features and a leading brand name.
With athenaPractice, you get a cloud-based EMR software so you don’t have to manage hardware or update software. Both the PM and EMR modules seamlessly integrate into one system and it caters to more than 70 specialties. Providers can access charting and patient information using a mobile app for tablets and iPhones, eliminating the need for additional hardware around the office.
athenaPractice EMR features an easy-to-navigate interface allowing staff to examine a patient’s chart to learn more about a patient as well as specifics like the patient’s health history and recent test results. Physicians can easily share patient information with outside organizations and physicians who may even be using different EMR software. The ePrescribe function streamlines prescription orders and refill requests while the financial tools streamline your practice’s revenue workflow.
There’s also a patient web portal which allows them to conveniently schedule appointments, access billing and directly message you and your staff through a secured network. Patients can utilize the educational resources for overall health information or to learn more about a diagnosis.
The system is certified according to national regulations, so your patients’ and practice’s information can stay secured and organized. athenaPractice EMR is certified for meaningful use so your practice has the option to attest and meet government regulations. Data and medical-information transferred is HIPAA compliant and the EMR software offers full support for ICD-10 and ICD-9 coding, saving your staff time and financial resources.
To get the most from your investment in athenaPractice you will receive hands-on help from the athenaPractice experts. Many clinics have never reassessed their use of athenaPractice and are operating with content and workflows implemented years ago. With the passing of time and staff turnover, knowledge and efficiencies can get diluted. A simple check will identify weak points and help turn present-day problems into winning solutions you can act on and begin to see tangible results straight away.
When you get athenaPractice EMR software you also get the Quatris Healthco team behind it. Software is only useful when human beings are able to successfully adopt it. That’s why Quatris Healthco focuses intently on helping customers get the most from it and that’s at the heart of the company. When Quatris Healthco solves software problems it ultimately helps clinic admins and physicians to be more productive- it’s the intangible that stands out when looking at Quatris Healthco’s consistent growth as a company.
Seeing Is Believing
From a small startup to an award-winning provider of EMR and PM solutions, with satisfied customers in clinics from coast-to-coast, Quatris Healthco offers a stellar EMR system for you, your team, patients, and healthcare community.
Experience how athenaPractice EMR can serve you and your patients best.