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The Different Electronic Medical Record Types You Need to Know

July 6, 2023
Different Electronic Medical Record Types main

Electronic medical records are digital records managed by doctors and medical practices. Medical practices use them to diagnose and treat various health concerns. 

Digital health records help healthcare providers access patient information quickly. A quality electronic records system prevents problems like lost paperwork and unreadable handwriting. Yet these records present their own challenges as well. 

Types of Electronic Medical Records

Electronic Health Records

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are sometimes confused with electronic health records (EHRs). EMRs are the digital files and documents on a given patient stored by a specific provider. EHRs are digital files and documents compiled from several providers.

While EMRs are read-only for patients, EHRs allow patients to edit their own records. Patients can fill in any history and details that the documents may have missed. They allow records to be accessed by and transferred between various medical practices.

Personal Health Records

Another type of digital medical record is a personal health record (PHR). While medical professionals control EMRs and EHRs, the patient governs a PHR. The idea of a PHR is to give patients access to their records and complete ownership over them.

Electronic Medical Record Systems and Electronic Medical Record Software

EMR systems, or EMR software, are digital programs used by medical practices. The software can manage, generate, and store digital health records of all sorts. Some opt for a standalone EMR system, but many now use EMR software that ties in with their practice management system

Benefits of Using Electronic Medical Records

There are many benefits surrounding digital medical records. Three top advantages are a boost in efficiency, improved patient care, and reduced costs. 

Increased Efficiency

Before EMRs, practice staff could waste hours chasing down misfiled or misplaced patient charts. Thankfully, those days are behind us as EMRs give practice staff a serious boost in efficiency. They reduce paperwork and streamline tasks like data entry from patient forms and medical billing.

Improved Patient Care

EMRs give doctors easy access to patient records. They help doctors diagnose patients more accurately. EMRs help prevent medical errors as the computer can alert doctors to potential problems. They also reduce duplicate medical tests by offering providers access to the most recent test results at a glance. 

Reduced Costs

Finally, EMRs help practices save money in several ways. They make it easier to meet insurance requirements, allowing them to get paid more efficiently. EMRs also reduce billing errors and can pair with a practice management suite to streamline the billing process even further.  

Security Considerations for Electronic Medical Records

Digital health records need to have top-notch security. Fortunately, a good EMR system can help you protect patient data while providing all the benefits of digital record keeping. 

Importance of Electronic Medical Record Security

Patients trust doctors and healthcare facilities to keep health data private. A breach of trust can quickly lead to patients transferring out of the practice and could even cause the practice to close its doors.

Beyond patient trust, there are real consequences for failure to safeguard patient information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) aims to protect patient health data. Practices and individuals can face hefty fines and imprisonment for breaking HIPAA guidelines.

Measures for Ensuring Data Protection

Healthcare digital security must be robust to protect patient privacy and ensure digital records are kept safe. Practices must employ and monitor three primary security measures:

  1. Control over access — Ensure that those who have access to digital health files do not share their passwords or PINs.
  2. Encryption — Digital medical records should be stored in a secure manner. If anyone gains access to your computers from the outside, they should not be able to decipher the data.
  3. Auditing — Keep an automatic log to detail everyone who accesses secure information through your system. That way, should there be a problem later, you can likely trace it back to the source. 

Common Questions and Concerns

What Are Electronic Medical Records?

Electronic Medical Records, or EMRs, are digital records of a patient’s health data, administered and kept by a medical practice. 

How Are Electronic Medical Records Used?

EMRs are primarily used for diagnosis and treatment. They allow doctors to quickly access and more fully understand a patient’s medical history.

What Are the Benefits of Using Electronic Medical Records?

There are three primary benefits for practices that use EMRs:

  1. Better efficiency
  2. Improved patient care
  3. Reduced costs
How Are Electronic Medical Records Secured?

Electronic medical records must be encrypted and password protected. Practices also need an auditing system to ensure that all interactions with medical records are recorded. 

What Are the Risks of Using Electronic Medical Records?

EMRs have some risks, like security and privacy issues, the potential for data loss or corruption, and inaccurate data entry. Most practices agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks, but it’s important to take steps to mitigate these risks.


There are several types of digital health records, and each has its own uses. These digital records can help medical practices run more smoothly, have better outcomes, and boost their bottom line. That said, they do come with concerns over safety and privacy, and practices must ensure that all digital records are properly secured. 

If you’re looking for an EHR system for your medical practice, check out EHR 24/7. This full-service electronic health record system seamlessly integrates with our practice management software. Sign up today to see how easy and beneficial this system can be for your practice!