Recently, a colleague pointed out that the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) published a definition of Electronic Health Record and, essentially, killed the Electronic Medical Record or EMR. The reasoning:
“The word ‘health’ covers a lot more territory than the word ‘medical.’”
Let’s validate the logic with a quick trip to Dictionary.com and compare the definitions of both medical and health:
Medical – noun
- Something done or received in regard to the state of one’s health, as a medical examination.
Health – noun
- The general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor: good health; poor health.
Makes sense, so congratulations! Chalk one up for simplifying healthcare. One less healthcare acronym we have to remember and explain!
EMR and EHR created confusion. From healthcare standards to all the various applications, healthcare has its own alphabet. Maybe part of the new Meaningful Use regulations should be for every new acronym introduced at least three have to be eliminated.
Enough fun, I guess, so what is an EHR according to the ONC?
“EHRs focus on the total health of the patient—going beyond standard clinical data collected in the provider’s office and inclusive of a broader view on a patient’s care. EHRs are designed to reach out beyond the health organization that originally collects and compiles the information. They are built to share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care.”
Essentially, EHR takes a more horizontal view of the patient’s care (across the cycle or spectrum of care) rather than what an EMR did which was a more vertical view (within one physician’s care).
Take note. Drop EMR from your vocabulary. It’s EHR. It’s more, well, meaningful.