Starting a practice

EHR vs. EMR: What’s better for your practice?

Illustration of a woman sitting at a desk, using EHR/EMR software on a computer.

Electronic medical records and electronic health records may sound the same, but there are key differences in how they function.

Electronic medical records and electronic health records may sound the same, but there are key differences in how they function. Here's your guide to understanding the nuances and choosing the right system for your practice.

What is an EMR?

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a client's medical history from one practice. It includes information such as treatment plans, medications, immunization dates, allergies, and more. Essentially, an EMR is designed to streamline and automate clinical operations in a single healthcare organization, helping to enhance efficiency and accuracy.

What is an EHR?

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a holistic system that is designed to capture a comprehensive digital record of a patient’s health. EHRs make it seamless for different healthcare providers and organizations to document and share information in the course of their treatment of the patient.

An EHR may include clinical data from multiple healthcare providers, specialists, laboratories, and hospitals — including the patient's demographics, medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and more.

What is the difference between an EMR and an EHR?

The biggest difference between an EMR and an EHR is the scope of information contained within each system. While EMRs allow a single organization to easily document and reference patient records, EHRs provide a broader picture of the patient’s health by integrating information from various healthcare sources — across providers, offices, locations, and settings.

In other words, EMRs are centered around a single practice’s clinical data, while EHRs transcend individual practices and center around an overall view of the patient’s health.

How to decide what's best for your practice

EHRs are on the rise in mental healthcare, as they make it possible for various specialists to promote continuity of care. But many smaller private practices opt for the simplicity and lower cost of an EMR, especially when they’re just starting out. Here’s how to decide what’s right for you:

Assess your practice needs:

Consider the size and scope of your private practice. If you see yourself collaborating with other types of healthcare providers (like primary care physicians) and think your practice would benefit from a comprehensive patient overview, an EHR might be the best choice. EHRs can also facilitate referrals and continuous care between talk therapists and prescribing physicians.

Examine your budget:

While EHRs offer more functionality across the healthcare landscape, they can also be more expensive to implement and maintain. On the other hand, because EMRs are more focused, they may be a more cost-effective solution for smaller practices.

By choosing the system that aligns with your practice goals and your budget, you'll be better equipped to provide optimal care, streamline operations, and navigate the evolving landscape of digital health.

Use Headway’s features — at no cost to you

Headway makes working with insurance easy and profitable by taking on all of the administrative burden. With our updated provider portal, Headway provides many helpful EHR features free of charge to help you guide your client journey from day one and beyond.

Join Headway as a provider