March 21, 2024

EMR vs. EHR: A Comparison and Guide

EMR vs. EHR: A Comparison and Guide

The terms EMR (electronic medical record) and EHR (electronic health record) have long been used interchangeably among healthcare providers. The questions that naturally emerge are:

Are they the same? Are they different? How do you know which one your practice needs?

In this article, we will examine the differences and similarities between EMRs and EHRs and discuss a modern EMR platform that is shaping the future of behavioral healthcare management.

Table of Contents

What Is the Difference Between EMR and EHR Systems?

There is very little difference between EMR and EHR systems. Both types of software provide the same basic function to healthcare organizations.

What Is an EMR?

An electronic medical record, or EMR, is a software that stores data about a single client or patient, including:

  • Medical history
  • Billing information
  • Diagnoses
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Immunization dates 
  • Progress notes; and 
  • Patient outcomes

EMRs are typically used to manage important workflows within a single medical or behavioral healthcare practice. Choosing an EMR system that works best for your practice largely depends on the specific services your practice provides.

What Is an EHR?

An electronic health record, or EHR, is a digital record of health information. These are more commonly used in hospitals or organizations where it’s necessary to share a patient’s data between organizations.  

EHRs will usually incorporate a continuous time-stamped record of client care, complete with details such as:

  • Past medical history
  • Vital signs
  • Progress notes
  • Diagnoses
  • Medications
  • Lab data; and 
  • Imaging reports

Some EHRs may also contain information like insurance details, demographic data, and imported data from personal wellness devices.

If your practice operates independently, an EHR is not necessary. Instead, an effective EMR that harnesses important client data can help take your practice’s care and client outcomes to the next level.

Ritten: A Better Behavioral Health EMR To Power Your Workflow

At Ritten, we believe that the future of behavioral health is data-driven. Hidden in routine notes and assessments, there is critical information that can be captured to allow for better tracking of client outcomes.

Unlike some burdensome EMR platforms, Ritten is a software designed to be a useful and intuitive tool to power your clinic’s most important workflows.

Ritten is easy to use and has a dedicated onboarding team and account managers that are ready to help a facility seamlessly implement a new EMR or migrate from an old EMR system.

Ready to learn more? Book a demo today.

Which Is Better, EMR or EHR?

The type of software you will choose depends on the unique needs of your practice. While there is very little difference between EMR and EHR software, there are still a few key differences worth noting.

Key Differences Between EHR and EMR

The main difference between EHR and EMR is that patient data stored in an EHR can be shared with other clinicians and healthcare organizations. 

Some of the other differences between EHR and EMR include…

  • EMRs are mainly used by clinicians for diagnosis and treatment, while EHRs are designed to be shared and accessed by the patient.
  • EMRs are less susceptible to cybersecurity issues, since they are not being shared with patients, but are securely managed by the practice.
  • An EHR allows a client’s medical information to move with them to pharmacies, emergency rooms, labs, imaging facilities, specialists, and across state lines.

When To Use EHR and EMR Systems

Choosing between EHRs and EMRs generally comes down to the goals of the organization.  

For example… if a facility’s intent is focused mainly on improving client outcomes through improved documentation management, monitoring, or relationship management, an EMR would likely be the preferred option.

Whereas, an organization looking to improve client access to health data or a facility needing to transfer medical history or records to another facility would likely need the features of an EHR.

When it comes to behavioral health software, EMRs tend to offer the features that best serve the clinician or facility’s needs.

Benefits of EHR and EMR Systems

The benefits of both EHR and EMR systems are numerous and include: 

  • A clear timeline of client medical history — Since both systems are fully digital, every entry is time-stamped with the exact date and time. This means data can quickly and easily be arranged chronologically, allowing practitioners and nurses access to the client’s current medical needs so they can make the best decisions about appropriate care.
  • Data security — The top EHR and EMR systems are HIPAA-compliant. With safety and security practices that meet federal government standards, practitioners generally do not have to worry about breaching client privacy as they ensure the highest level of comprehensive care.
  • PMS inclusion — Many EHR systems include access to practice management systems or PMSs. These platforms allow practitioners to:
  • Streamline scheduling and client registration.
  • Generate customizable reports to improve financial performance.
  • Improve the efficiency of billing by giving coders and billing parties direct access to clinical data

Certified EHR: What Does It Mean and Is It Necessary?

What Is a Certified EHR?

If an EHR is certified, it means that the facility’s electric health record structure is formatted in adherence to the requirements for Meaningful Use through CMS and the ONC. With this certification, facilities can qualify for certain federal incentive programs.

Certification Criteria

As of 2022, eligible hospitals may use… 

  1. Certification criteria from the 2015 Edition
  2. The 2015 Edition Cures Update criteria, or
  3. A combination of the two 

… in order to meet the CEHRT (certified electronic health record (EHR) technology) definition and be considered a potential ‘meaningful user’ of the program.

Is Certification Necessary?

Usually, it is not – most facilities do not require a certified EHR. 

While there are clear reasons some facilities would benefit from the incentives of using a certified EHR, there are several legitimate reasons why an EHR vendor would opt to remain uncertified. 

For example…

  • Providers outside of traditional acute and ambulatory spaces were never required to use certified systems and becoming certified still remains irrelevant.
  • Getting certified is a time-consuming and expensive process that is only necessary for facilities that require it

Non-certified EHRs can carry all the same functionality as a certified EHR – sometimes even greater functionality. In fact, many EHR solutions that are certified tend to be outdated. 

Providers should consider the specific needs of their practice and choose an EHR that fits those needs and enables next-level client care.

Building Better Healthcare Tools and Driving Better Outcomes With Ritten Behavioral Health Software

Ritten understands that the future of behavioral health is data-driven. We make it easy for facilities to embrace the future of healthcare — today.

Our software is nimble, personalizable, intuitive and easily integrated with other software. 

Why Ritten? Our objective is to find a way to bring new and fairly priced technology to your facility, NOT to put you out of business with outrageous costs and hidden fees. 

We're here for you — with an onboarding team ready to help you through the transition and dedicated engineers on call 24 hours a day.

If your behavioral or mental healthcare facility is looking for a practical, modern solution to managing …

  • Documentation
  • Scheduling
  • Group care
  • Practices
  • Referrals
  • Billing
  • Monitoring outcomes
  • Ordering medications
  • And more

… Ritten is here to help. Book a demo today!

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