What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (2024)

Maintaining a patient's medical history on paper can be tedious and labor intensive for healthcare professionals, and with today's consumers wanting quick access to their health data and information without having to physically go to their physicians office, digital solutions are a necessity.

Physician burnout costs the US $5 billion each year and triples the likelihood of expensive medical errors – that's why electronic health records (EHRs) have become a staple in the rapidly transforming space.

What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (1)

What is an Electronic Health Record?

What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (2)

An electronic health record (EHR) is an electronic collection of a patient's medical history – including diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, allergies, laboratory and test results. And EHRs work beyond just recording a patient's health data.

EHRs allow patients' health information to be managed in a digital formatand their data can be shared with other providers across multiple organizations. They grant access to evidence-based tools that providers can use to make sound decisions and recommendations about a patient's care.


While some people may use the terms Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) interchangeably, they have stark differences that are important to note.

EMRs are sometimes referred to as the first iteration of EHRs – they are quite literally the digital version of a patient's paper chart. EMRs focus on a patient's various diagnoses and treatments and can be used to help track data over time.

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EHRs can do everything EMRs can do, and more. Designed to go beyond the information stored and entered by the original health organization, they cover a much wider scope of documentation and analysis of a patient's health and medical history. They can even assist with healthcare management functions, such as billing and scheduling.

Benefits of EHR Systems

What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (3)

EHR systems can improve two major areas in the healthcare industry: physician productivity and patient satisfaction.

Physician productivity

EHR implementation has the ability to speed up physician diagnoses and digitize administrative tasks, which are associated with 30% of healthcare costs. Other ways EHRs can enhance physician productivity include:

  • Fewer file pulls
  • Reduced transcription costs
  • 24/7 access to patient information
  • Improved billing and scheduling

Patient Satisfaction

Today's patients want to have a firmer grasp on monitoring and controlling their own health data and medical records. EHRs give them the ability to quickly obtain their data and see which areas of their health history require improvement. Additionally, EHRs provide patients with:

  • 24/7 access to their records
  • Easier chronic disease management
  • Reduced turn-around time for messages to a physician
  • Improved delivery of education materials

EHR Implementation Strategies & Challenges

While EHRs have the potential to decrease cost, increase productivity, and enhance patient satisfaction, EHR implementation is a long and complicated process. Some of the major hurdles EHRs face include interoperability and data privacy.

What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (4)

Interoperability – the ability of different software systems to share and exchange data – is one of the biggest challenges faced by the entire healthcare industry. And since one of the key perks to using EHRs is the ability to share patients' medical history across a variety of health organizations, accurate interoperability of data is critical. However, just 37% of US hospital leaders think their organization is "very" or "extremely" successful at sharing medical data with other health systems, according to Business Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Ecosystem report.

Along with Interoperability, data security and consumer privacy pose another obstacle when it comes to EHR implementation. Patients and physicians want to ensure that their data is being protected – a challenging feat when faced with potential cyber attacks and security breaches.

Employee training is also important to a successful EHR implementation strategy. Hospitals and healthcare companies should form a strong, focused EHR team to think about what software the organization will need, how they'll migrate paper documents to a digitized format, and what strategies will be put in place if their EHR program goes down.

Clinicians should not be trained on one specific function of an EHR, but on the entire system so that they can best optimize what the digital tool can offer both themselves and patients. It's important for employees to be trained in the entire EHR module, otherwise they risk reverting back to traditional methods.

Government EHR Incentive Program & Mandates

To help tackle the various challenges discussed above, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Promoting Interoperability Programs designed to assist healthcare professionals and organizations to meaningfully use EHR technology.

The program initially launched in 2011 and evolved through three stages:

  • Stage 1: set the foundational requirements for recording patient health data electronically
  • Stage 2: CMS encouraged healthcare professionals to use EHRs to exchange patients' health data and emphasized the importance of quality improvement and meaningful use
  • Stage 3: Consolidates and combines stage 1 and 2, providing physicians with the current requirements for the Promoting Interoperability Programs. Many points were carried over from stage 2, emphasizing the importance of quality of care and working to improve patients' health outcomes.

Digital Health Trends & Future of EHR

The global Electronic Health Records Market size was valued at $20.55 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $33.41 billion by 2025. And big tech firms are largely contributing to this growth as they continue to make their way into the digital health market.

What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (5)

Google parent Alphabet is leveraging its cloud platform to solve healthcare technology issues associated with EHR interoperability, and in turn score fruitful health system partnerships. In 2018 Google launched Google Cloud for Healthcare with the aim of helping clinicians collect and access patients' health data.

The Cloud Healthcare API enables easy exchange between healthcare applications while meeting industry-specific privacy and security requirements to propel EHRs to become meaningful decision support tools.

In 2019 Apple also decided to tap into the EHR opportunity - the tech company signed a deal to integrate Allscripts' EHR data into its Apple Health Records platform. And since Allscripts is the fifth largest EHR vendor in the US according to Business Insider Intelligence, this tie-up will likely help Apple increase its hospital penetration.

Amazon is making its way into the EHR market as well. Amazon Web Services (AWS) collects data from sources like EHRs to aid healthcare providers in their decision making process and identify and predict potential risks to patients. According to research from Business Insider Intelligence, 62% of healthcare organizations view a potential move by Amazon as positive for the medical industry.

Finally, many big tech players in transportation and patient convenience will support the EHR market moving forward. Uber began taking advantage of the untapped opportunity with nonemergency medical transport by allowing provider organizations using Cerner EHRs to request Uber rides for their patients.

Want to learn more?

Amid social distancing restrictions and the worry associated with entering a healthcare facility for nonemergencies, digital health is more important now than ever before. Personalization and convenience is becoming a staple for almost every organization, and to accomplish this in the healthcare industry, digital technology is a must-have.

Interested in learning more? Insider Intelligence publishes thousands of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Digital Health industry. You can learn more about becoming a client here.

More Digital Health Industry Topics

  • AI in Healthcare
  • Digital Therapeutics (DTx)
  • Healthcare Ecosystem
  • Remote Patient Monitoring
What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records (2024)


What is an EHR system? Definitions, benefits, problems and trends for electronic health records? ›

An EHR or electronic health record is a digital record of health information. It contains all the information you'd find in a paper chart — and a lot more. An EHR may include past medical history, vital signs, progress notes, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab data and imaging reports.

What are electronic health records EHRs and what benefits do they provide? ›

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic version of a patients medical history, that is maintained by the provider over time, and may include all of the key administrative clinical data relevant to that persons care under a particular provider, including demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, ...

What is an EHR system quizlet? ›

What does the acronym EHR stand for? ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD. What is the definition of an EHR? the portions of a patient's medical records that are stored in a computer system; aka electronic medical records, computerized patient records, or electronic chart.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of EMR and EHR? ›

EHRs generally have more advanced functionality and capabilities, such as generating population health reports, support for clinical decision support tools, and integration with other healthcare systems. EMRs may have more basic functionality and are primarily used for documentation and billing purposes.

What do EHR and EMR stand for define and explain the difference between the two? ›

EHR (Electronic Health Records)

EMR (Electronic Medical Records) A more comprehensive digital view of a patient's health history. Digital version of a patient's paper-based, basic medical records and information. Optimized transferability between healthcare organizations.

How will EHRs impact public health? ›

EHRs can contribute to public health population-based programs through improving the reporting and investigation of diseases and conditions that are mandated for reporting to state and local public health agencies; identifying sentinel diseases, injuries, and events that “can be used to assess the stability or change ...

Which is not a benefit of EHRs? ›

More cost-effective is NOT a benefit of electronic health records (EHRs).

What is the main function of the EHR? ›

An EHR's core purpose rests on collecting clinical data regarding patients' diagnoses, allergies, lab test results, and medications. It must also be able to process and store these data in a way that can be easily retrieved, analyzed, and transmitted.

What are the benefits of EMR quizlet? ›

  • Immediate access to health information. The EMR is simultaneously accessible to all qualified users. ...
  • Computerized physician order management. ...
  • Clinical decision support. ...
  • Automated alerts and reminders. ...
  • Electronic communication and connectivity. ...
  • Patient support. ...
  • Administration and reporting. ...
  • Error reduction.

What are the two types of EHR systems commonly used in healthcare? ›

The various kinds of EHR systems can be streamlined into two basic types:
  • A server-based EHR system, also known as a physician-hosted system.
  • A cloud-based EHR system.

What are the problems with EMR? ›

A number of problems have been identified with the EMR, including increased provider time, computer down time, lack of standards, and threats to confidenti- ality.

What are the negative effects of EHR? ›

What are the disadvantages of EHR? The disadvantages of EHRs relate primarily to a range of factors including user-related issues, financial issues and design flaws that create barriers to using them as an effective tool to deliver healthcare services.

What are 3 similarities between EHR and EMR? ›

EMRs and EHRs offer similar benefits regarding data organization, accessibility, and efficiency.

What is the biggest challenge of health information technology? ›

Explanation: The biggest challenge of Health Information Technologies (HIT) is Information security. With the increasing reliance on electronic health records and digital patient data, protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access and breaches is a critical concern.

What were the most common features used in an EHR system according to doctors? ›

Comprehensive patient charts and records

All EHR software will include a comprehensive record of a patient's health history across the entire healthcare system. This includes patient diagnoses, lab test results, medications, allergies, and much more.

What is the meaning of EMR? ›

An electronic (digital) collection of medical information about a person that is stored on a computer. An electronic medical record includes information about a patient's health history, such as diagnoses, medicines, tests, allergies, immunizations, and treatment plans.

What is the overall purpose of electronic health records? ›

Which are primary functions of the electronic health record? Provides patient information for planning careThe electronic health record enables the use of accurate, up-to-date patient-related information to help nurses plan care.

What are the benefits of EHR in mental health? ›

Improvement in medication management is another benefit that comes when using an EHR system. Mental health providers can monitor the prescriptions their patients are on, have all their medical history, prevent prescription errors, and it eliminates the “double-doctoring” by patients.

What is a key advantage of using EHRs over paper? ›

Records can be rapidly shared with patients and other healthcare professionals, aiding in consultation and emergency situations. EHR systems often have built-in alerts and reminders to notify of potential patient health risks, helping healthcare organizations prevent errors and improve the quality of patient care.

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