EMR and EHR are two different terms that are often used interchangeably. Nitin Chhoda discusses the difference between EMR and EHR and why this is important for your practice.

EMR programsThere’s been a lot of confusion about the difference in an electronic medical record (EMR) and an electronic health record (EHR), with some using the terms interchangeable.

An electronic medal record is an integrated software system that allows therapists to interact with patients and submit billing claims online, and increase the productivity of the clinic.

An EHR is a collection of data that includes a client’s medical history, personal statistics, billing information and demographics.

The two are very different and many researchers and vendors are still struggling to define each, though both groups tend to agree that EMRs will revolutionize the way medical professionals conduct business, deliver patient care and boost the prosperity of a practice.

EMR is the New Technology

As the debate rages on, one fact remains. Therapists must implement an EMR by 2014 as per The Affordable Care Act. There are dozens of available EMRs, most of which were designed with hospitals, physicians and critical care facilities in mind. They’re generally expensive to purchase and require huge monthly fees.

The good news is that there are very affordable options available that are designed specifically for physical therapy practices. Clinicians should exercise due diligence when researching an EMR and not install the first system they explore, thinking any system is better than none.

The goals of The Affordable Care Act were many and lofty. Some facets of the act were designed to lower healthcare costs, enhance patient care and provide improved access to healthcare services. EMRs will definitely be a cost saver for insurance providers, but they also have distinct advantages for physical therapy practices.


With an EMR, therapists can access a patient’s EHR to discover what tests and procedures have been ordered, prescriptions being taken and how the client responded to treatment. There’s no need to rely on a client’s memory for crucial medical information.

It’s all there in the EHR and can be accessed via an EMR by multiple healthcare professionals. Therapists can begin treatment sooner, without the need for duplicating costly tests. Access to the information in an EHR saves time for both clients and therapists.

The documentation in an EMR is stored electronically and can be submitted online for quicker turnarounds on reimbursements.

Denials can be addressed in a fraction of the time offered by traditional paper methods and postal service, and there’s no need to wait days or weeks to obtain patient information.

EMR web basedAn EMR also offers a convenient means of communication between therapists and patients to send payment and appointment reminders, post test results, request prescription refills and verify insurance coverage.

Healthcare providers can consult and collaborate through the medium of an EMR for more effective patient care.

In contrast, an EHR is a document representing a collection of data rather than a software solution. EHRs provide a complete record of a patient’s illnesses, ailments, allergies, prescriptions and immunizations.

It offers in-depth information about the client’s health history that can be instantly updated and accessed by multiple healthcare providers through an EMR. Along with health information, it encompasses valuable demographic data that therapists can utilize to market their practice and track referrals.

Multiple Tools

The 21st century method of record keeping has arrived with EMRs and they offer therapists multiple tools to create better patient care outcomes, market their clinics, and save enormous amounts of time, effort and money. While many continue to use the terms EMR and EHR interchangeably, therapists need to understand the difference for the good of their business.