Healthcare is full of acronyms - and this is one of the most important if you’re pursuing a career in modern healthcare. Find out what EHR is, why it’s important in healthcare, and how it affects you as a current or future certified healthcare professional.
What is EHR?
If you’re new to the healthcare profession, get used to hearing these three letters. EHR stands for Electronic Health Record. You might also hear EMR (Electronic Medical Record). There’s a slight difference in what each of these acronyms refers to:
- EHR - refers to a patient’s overall health record
- EMR - refers to a patient’s medical record within a specific medical office or practice
You can think of EHR as a patient’s whole history, every record that’s related to their health, and EMR as a one-off record that’s attached to specific doctor or practice.
These both refer to digitized medical records which are replacing the old system, where your doctor would have a physical file folder on you and your medical history.
Why is EHR important?
With the old system of physical file folders, you could easily have health records spread across several doctor’s offices. If you were to move to a new office, files would need to copied and sent or faxed to your new doctor to give them a full picture of your health. You can easily see how many potential problems could come up with this: a patient not remembering their previous office’s contact information, lost or partial records, hard-to-read handwriting - the list goes on.
EHR aims to digitize your health records so that they’re consistent across all of your health care providers. Providers take notes within an EHR system so that any providers in your future can access them, easily read them, and add to them.
EHR has also been in the spotlight over the last several years due to the CMS’ “Meaningful Use” regulations, which have incentivized hospitals and practices to implement digital systems.
What does EHR have to do with me?
If you work as a medical assistant, health records specialist, and in some cases in specialized roles like EKG technician, you’ll need to understand EHR and, in some roles, enter information into EHR systems.
Regulations allow credentialed medical assistants to enter information into EHR systems. Medical assistants taking on that responsibility can be really helpful to the doctors and nurses you work with and make the office run more smoothly for both the healthcare team and patients. For example, the doctor can be talking with the patient while a medical assistant enters information into the record, eliminating the need for a doctor or nurse to pause the conversation and type on a laptop in the examination room.
If you’re considering a career in medical assisting, make sure you understand the EHR landscape. You may even consider earning an additional certification in EHR (like our CEHRS certification) to show your level of expertise to a future employer.