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What’s the Difference Between EHR and EMR?

EHR, which refers to “electronic health record,” and EMR, which denotes “electronic medical record,” are often used interchangeably. The term EMR was first used to refer to patient records of specific medical treatments in a single practice. EMRs, however, don’t cover everything when the term is used correctly, and these areas include treatments from other providers, general health, family medical history, habits like smoking and medication history. The largest health organizations now use EHRs--especially those that want to offer their patients a comprehensive view of their overall health and consult full medical and health information to guide treatment options. [1]

EPIC EHR software integration with patient portals works well for middle-to-large health organizations such as hospitals, physician groups, large clinics and academic institutions. In these cases, EHR integration is almost always necessary for the software to function at peak efficiency. EPIC EMR software can also be used in large organizations and hospitals and provides inpatient information for all departments, billing services, CRM connections to enhance patient care and accounting and registration services. Patients can also get integrated ambulatory care after their medical procedures by integrating connections with affiliated clinics, physicians and independent care providers such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. That’s why EMR integration is just as important as EHR integration because the software’s usefulness depends on connecting with other internal and external data sources and provider systems. Regardless of which term is used, EPIC EHR or EMR integration gives organizations these abilities:


  • Track each patient’s health over time to spot worrisome trends.
  • Monitor and improve health based on more comprehensive information.
  • Collect data from outside sources such as wearable health monitors and mHealth apps.
  • Improve strategies for preserving health and extending lifespans.
  • Identify patients who need screenings, colonoscopies, vaccinations, mammograms and other tests.
  • Provide emergency service workers with critical information in critical health situations.
  • Explain the results of each lab test and what the normal range should be.
  • Make it easy for new doctors and substitutes to gain a quick working knowledge of a patient’s health.

Health Apps and Patient Portals

The integration of all relevant data and operating software makes it easy to consult billing records, share information with others, manage medical accounts and make possible beneficial patient applications, physician apps and patient portals for self-service. EPIC software can speed up patient payments, co payments, insurance payments and Medicare and Medicaid payments, but is only exposed inside the practice or hospital. That's why it's so important to integrate it with a patient portal, which exposes all those services to patients. Patients who are also engaged tend to use proprietary mHealth apps, consult their EHRs, buy wearable health monitors and become generally more health conscious, which helps medical organizations to improve patient care.



Why It’s Critical to Offer Patients Online “Meaningful Use” Applications

Medicare and Medicaid offer expanded benefits (and maximum payments) to organizations that offer their patients digital access to EMRs, EHRs and patient portals. These benefits are authorized by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which is part of the larger American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. [2] An integrated EPIC patient portal can provide many benefits that constitute “meaningful use” by fostering better patient engagement through digital health records and self-service customer portals. The utility of integrated EPIC software doesn’t stop with customers; the software also provides these benefits to medical organizations and their staffs:


  • Providing access to patient records remotely for staff
  • Enhancing care
  • Triggering alerts when lab tests fall out of normal ranges
  • Warning physicians and patients of medication errors or interaction effects
  • Scheduling preventative care
  • Streamlining treatments
  • Reducing the need for duplicate entries of data and patient information


Adopting an EHR system isn’t enough to provide seamless and comprehensive information and care. One study from peer60 found that physicians aren’t satisfied with EHR software vendors despite high adoption rates. Dissatisfaction comes primarily from poor usability and missing capabilities. [3] Other complaints about EHR software in general include:


  • Software often fails to consolidate new information quickly.
  • Fragmented connections lead to mistakes in patient charts--especially reports from ambulatory care facilities.
  • Many organizations fail to qualify for Medicare/Medicaid HITRUST reimbursement.
  • EHRs often require advanced classroom training for authorized staff including harried physicians.


Integration of EPIC software, which has one of the best reputations and one of the highest adoption rates among EHR software providers, resolves many of these complaints by integrating third-party connections securely in the API layer where the information can be validated and entered on each patient’s chart without compromising security or running afoul of HIPAA regulations. Integrated patient portal systems make it easier for physicians to enter information in their regular formats instead of learning how to work with EMRs and EHRs.

Despite concerns over administration, rank-and-file patients seem to appreciate their online experiences when accessing their records--especially with EPIC software and integration with a patient portal. This combination empowers useful and user-friendly customer portals and mHealth apps that patients can access or use to monitor their own health issues. One report found that 75 percent of patients admitted that accessing their own records would improve their understanding of health issues, and 80 percent of patients who access their own EHRs actually use the information to improve their health. [4] The report also reveals that apps and online portals can increase patient engagement by 60 percent.

Why It’s Important to Choose a Skilled and Experienced Developer to Handle EPIC & Patient Portal Integration

Full integration of EPIC EHR software for large organizations or EMR integration for any medical organization requires an experienced vendor team that understands HIPAA requirements and can customize your system based on staff and patient needs. The more useful the applications, the greater your patient engagement becomes. Engagement leads to better health decisions. The software can also streamline medical practices to free more personal time for staff to improve patient care. The right vendor can help to incorporate your suggestions, collaborate with your office staff and train all users on how to get the full benefits of EPIC software. Clarity not only understands HIPAA, but we've developed many HIPAA compliant marketplaces, patient and provider portals, mobile apps and specialize in HIPAA-compliant hosting consulting. Give us a call to day and we'll be happy to discuss your HIPAA portal project.





[1] EMR vs EHR – What is the Difference? - Health IT Buzz

[2] Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

[3] Physicians are Extremely Unhappy With All Major EHR Vendors

[4] 21 Fascinating Patient Engagement Stats