When it comes to healthcare, we know that digital technology can make a real, tangible and far-lasting impact. In many innumerable ways, IT has improved the state of healthcare across the world today. It extends from hospital management to diagnostic tools. It is now focused on integrating different functions, particularly EHR and EMR. These two are often used interchangeably, since they are both concerned with the digitisation of hospital records.
But there are also certain differences. The integration of EHR and EMR is inevitable in streamlining the digitisation of all medical records — one of the objectives of any healthcare software development. The purpose of this integration is to bring efficiency while improving the delivery of medicine.
EMR and EHR
Not too long ago these concepts were not very well known. Today they are the buzzword of healthcare software — an essential feature of any software installation that one cannot ignore. The terms are often used interchangeably. But there is a slight difference between the both with EHR being the more detailed version, while EMR essential for administrative purpose.
EMR or electronic medical record is the digitization of the massive paperwork in any healthcare organisation, whether it is a clinic or a hospital. It contains the treatment history as well as medical records of each patient at any practice. One of its essential features is tracking the treatment history an interactions, such as scheduling and sorting out patient records. It also records the medical history of the patient, including prescriptions, tests results and other procedures. It is organisational-centric, recording each patient’s history within the hospital or clinic.
EHR or electronic health record has a broader scope and focuses on a patient’s overall health. The focus of EHR is on the patient’s overall health, which includes outside data as well. Where EMR is not designed for data sharing, EHR is based on shared data between different centres to collate a complete history of the patient. It will also contain data from outside sources like laboratories and different clinicians.
Integrating EHR and EMR
EHR is in many ways a more integrated version of EMR. But many organisations are still hesitating over integration of the two functions. While every organisation has today initiated digitization, its scope is still limited and rarely ever as wide as EHR requires. There are some definite challenges in implementing and integrating the two functions. Interoperability remains a basic hurdle. But the advantages are simply too many and cannot be ignored.
The biggest advantage of EHR is that it facilitates better diagnosis. Doctors who have access to the detailed records of a patient can make informed decisions, one that takes into account the entire medical history of the patient and not just immediate records. The integration of all data helps us deliver critical information at the point of care. This is especially useful in emergency care or when dealing with chronic illnesses where a patient may have used multiple healthcare facilities.
Improving patient engagement
EMR and EHR both improve patient engagement substantially. The availability of all records with no effort is a huge advantage. Patients can access all their history at one go. They can also track their interactions within the organisation. This allows each of us to keep a better track of our health. But when we integrate EMR and EHR, we can go even beyond that. We can also ensure that patients are kept abreast of important appointments or their results quickly and seamlessly. For patients, it reduces their wait times in a hospital.
The organisational efficiency that we can achieve with complete integration makes the project well worth overcoming the challenges we may face. Just EMR alone can streamline all medical records in the organisation. We can access the complete history at one point, instead of collating information from different sources. Not only can we streamline diagnosis, we can also better connect with billing and insurance procedures.
Community health EHR integration can make a critical difference in community health. Since EHR integrates various records in one easily delivered form, we can access the entire history of each patient. At a macro level, we can track the well-being of an entire community. EHR records are key in healthcare software development that detect epidemics or health trends in a community.