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EMR? EHR? Practice Management System?
This is the eighth article in my series on Cloud Based Practice Management Systems. While this series is focused on Cloud-Based solutions, most of this information applies to traditional software solutions as well.
Some readers of this series on Cloud-Based Practice Management Systems have asked why I’ve not been using the current buzz terms like EHR and EMR. I thought I’d take a brief opportunity to explain. Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) are concepts that are still evolving and do not have accepted, generalized definitions yet. In general use, EMR tends to refer to the specific health records of a patient kept within the confines of an organization that provides health care. EHR tends to refer to the whole of all records about individual patients. Despite these distinctions, these terms are still often used interchangeably. Software vendors can be seen to advertise their systems as EHRs, EMRs or both. These terms have come into prominence in part due to government incentives offered to practices that adopt EHRs that qualify for meaningful use. Unfortunately, most mental health professionals currently can’t qualify for these incentives.
Further, EMR/EHR tends to be specifically directed at PHI. While this includes demographic information, it may not include a history of billing and revenues, secure communications and other features presented by the software I am writing about. Because these solutions are focused on more than just the medical/health data related to clients, I prefer the more accurate term of Practice Management System.
You can read more details about the topic and evolution of the terms here.
Share your thoughts on these terms in the comments below!
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Health Information Exchanges (HIE) are an initiative related to the Affordable Care Act and the HITECH Act. Their purpose is to ease the communication between the EHR/systems of various providers of health care, because the EHRs themselves are behind in doing so (i.e. interoperability).
About the Author
Rob has been covering technology and business news for mental health professionals since 2011. His extensive experience in IT, business, and private practice allow him to synthesize information in a friendly, digestible manner. He also enjoys time with his family, ultimate frisbee, and board gaming.