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EHR vs. EMR for Outpatient Clinics

What’s the best way to keep your patient records? Learn the difference between EHR and EMR software to see what is best for your outpatient clinic.


Medical software to manage patient records is not only useful in today’s digital age, but it’s necessary for outpatient success. There are a variety of benefits to a digital patient record management system, including 

  • Easy, streamlined process across the practice.
  • Time saved organizing and searching for records.
  • Easily retrievable digital back-ups.
  • Error reduction using an online platform

You may have heard of electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR). What’s the difference between the two and how do you determine which one works best for your outpatient clinic? 

What is an electronic health record (EHR)?

An EHR is a digital format of updated patient records that authorized users can access at any time. The main purpose of EHR is to create patient medical charts and other digital documents. EHRs are helpful because they can easily be shared across different clinics, providers, and labs. They are most often used by large hospitals. 

An EHR contains details such as your patient’s treatment plan, medications, medical history, lab results, allergies, and imaging results. Some of the main advantages of electronic health records include: 

  • Easily customize your EHR system to fit your individual needs.
  • High security for patient privacy.
  • Easily document every patient's visit, which makes it convenient to provide evidence for insurance claims.
  • Billing and payment tools that help manage, receive and make payments.

Benefits of electronic health records

  • Better patient communication. EHR systems have a patient portal that gives your patients access to their medical information history. The portal also enables patients to communicate directly with you via messaging capabilities.
  • Easier care coordination. EHRs facilitate quick patient record distribution among all authorized physicians, which is helpful if your patient has to visit a specialist.
  • Improved patient care. EHRs ensure availability and easy access to your health information, which helps you make efficient decisions about patients' medication and provide quality care.
  •  Cost savings and improved efficiency. EHRs not only help streamline cross-communication with other specialists, but the electronic nature helps reduce errors and speeds up medical record retrieval for your staff, which in the long run saves time and money.

What is an electronic medical record (EMR)?

EMRs are digital versions of patients' paper charts in a healthcare provider or clinician's office. Electronic medical records contain patients' notes and information that you may collect during an exam for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs have great advantages, such as:

  • Allowing you to track patient data across visits.
  • Staff monitoring and follow-ups with patients.
  • Quickly identifying a patient based on records.
  • Improving the overall quality of patient care. 
  • Maintaining security and privacy of patients' information.

Benefits of electronic medical records

  • Promotes easy communication among staff. EMRs make it easy for all staff to stay up-to-date on patient information as they move throughout the outpatient clinic, from a nurse to a physician.
  • Avoids duplicate testing. EMRs keep you up-to-date on all previous tests and medications, which reduces the need for both repeating information and the possibility of repeating tests.
  • General treatment improvement to boost patient care. EMRs make accessing all relevant patient information easy, reducing medical errors and improving the patients' well-being and overall health. 
  • Saves space. Patients' records are stored electronically, eliminating the challenges of managing, storing and retrieving paper records, which saves space and time.

Differences between an EHR and EMR

The biggest difference between an EHR and an EMR is that EHRs are usually used by large hospitals and are helpful for transferring patient records. In contrast, an EMR is used as an internal reference among staff. 

EMRs are not designed to share patient information outside your outpatient clinic. Alternatively, EHRs are designed to transfer your patient's medical information between your healthcare organization and an authorized medical care provider.

Finally, an EMR is a single-practice digital version of a patient's chart, while EHR is a more comprehensive report of the patient's overall medical history.

If you have an outpatient clinic, you will likely find an EMR to be the most useful for your patients  needs. However, it doesn’t hurt to look into an EHR to see if your clinic can benefit from what it offers.

Enhancing your outpatient clinic

Adopting an EHR or an EMR is a great way to continuously enhance and improve your outpatient clinic. If you are looking for more ways to gain a competitive advantage, reach out to CCD Health. We work with 3 of the top 5 radiology brands in the U.S. and have experience with a wide variety of medical software.

Our patient care specialists are ready to help keep your patient schedules streamlined, and our business intelligence team can help analyze your clinic and recommend best practices to improve your bottom line.

Contact us to learn how we can help reduce your workforce cost by 50%!

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