EMRs vs. EHRs: Which One Should I Choose?

emr conversion

Healthcare records are an integral part of a hospital, but they come in several different forms including paper, EMR, and EHR. If you’re thinking about an EHR or EMR conversion, it’s important to know which one is a better fit for you. What exactly is the difference between EHRs and EMRs, and which one is the right fit for your healthcare organization?

New Record Systems

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Healthcare records play a critically important role in the healthcare world as they are the documentation that allow providers and hospitals to diagnose, treat, and process patients by giving patient data. They also play a vital role in the revenue cycle because without records about treatments, a healthcare organization doesn’t know what to charge the patient for. Additionally, legislation and federal regulations like HIPAA penalize hospitals that don’t have a comprehensive system to store, update, and protect patient data.

To read a comprehensive guide to your hospital’s healthcare organization revenue cycle, click here.

The importance of records and regulation like HIPAA has led to a profound evolution in the medium and mode of hospital records over the last few decades as more and more healthcare systems embrace the digital and go through EHR and EMR conversions.

Healthcare records play a critically important role in the healthcare world. They help diagnose, treat, and process patients by giving physicians and practitioners data about that patient.

Digital recording systems have been a pivotal development for healthcare providers over the last 60 years. Because EHRs and EMRs provide data that is simpler to look at for physicians and practitioners, they have allowed for better analysis, diagnosis, and treatment of patients through that digitalization.

EMRs vs. EHRs

What exactly are EHRs and EMRs, how are they different, and which one is a better fit for your healthcare organization?


Paper records can be visualized as the clipboards at the end of a patient’s bed. The physician that attends to them will mark down every pill they take, the treatment they receive, and the length of stay. After the patient is discharged, that paper record is filed and stored with thousands of other records. If the patient returns, those prior records are accessible to the hospital for reference.

An EMR is similar to that clipboard, but instead of paper on a clipboard, it is digitalized. An EMR has all of the information that a paper record would. Because it is electronic, it is easier to access a patient’s medical history and to share it within a hospital. However, EMRs are not really sharable outside of one medical organization. If a different healthcare organization wants access to a patient’s history, it would have to be printed off and sent over. Still, many healthcare organizations have decided to go-live with an EMR conversion.


An EHR is a digital version of patient records but is much more comprehensive than an EMR because it is shared across virtually any health-related medical practices that a patient might visit. This allows it to include much more patient data as it loops in legacy data from every medical procedure, medication, appointment, procedure, and condition associated with an individual. Its data is not just related to hospitals but any health-related treatment like a visit to a dentist, optometrist, or physical therapist.

Because of the comprehensive and holistic nature of an EHR, especially when compared to paper systems or EMRs, EHRs allow for easier and better diagnosis and subsequent treatment of patients. More and more hospitals are opting for EHRs for this reason, and also because EHRs make compliance with state and federal regulation thanks to both the accessibility of patient data and the encrypted privacy they guarantee.

Which One Should You Choose?

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So what record system is right for your healthcare system? We highly recommend moving on from paper records. It’s the 21st century, and to succeed in the electronic age, it’s time to embrace modern tools and applications. When you’re choosing between an EMR conversion or an EHR, it’s important to take note of the scope of your medical organization. The EHR is clearly a more powerful piece of software. Offering much more information, this system puts more data in the hands of medical practitioners, allowing them to provide more accurate diagnoses. But some practices might not need all of that data.

When you’re choosing between an EMR or an EHR, it’s important to take note of the scope of your medical organization.

EMRs are a good fit for more specialized healthcare services like a dentist’s office. This is because a dentist or an optometrist won’t need as much information since they are only making diagnoses related to a very specialized part of the healthcare world. EHRs are a must for a healthcare organization with a broader focus and more departments like a hospital. This is because an EHR allows for the seamless flow of patient data through a hospital, allowing for diagnosis on many different fronts. A patient walking into a hospital could be suffering from a wide variety of ailments and afflictions, so the more patient data on the table, the better.

To recap:

  • Definitely move on from paper records. We have better patient record solutions in the modern world.
  • If you are a highly specialized medical facility that focuses on the practice of only one type of medicine, you can probably get by with an EMR conversion easily.
  • If you a larger healthcare organization with a broader focus, an EHR is the best fit for you.


While implementing a new record system is a must, it does not always happen efficiently. The implementation process includes, transferring legacy data over to the new system, checking to see that an EHR integrates with all departments, and updating other software so that it interfaces with other systems within your hospital.

Implementation can be a tedious undertaking as converting to a new EMR or EHR will take months or even years of groundwork ahead of time before you are ready to go-live with the new record system. Even after the go-live, data will be lost or logged inaccurately, resulting in missed charges and lost revenue. Without outside help, it’s normal for a healthcare organization to expect their bottom line will go down and to leak millions in lost revenue. It will take six-months minimum to return to the previous baseline.

To discover eight steps to help your hospital during a conversion, click here.

Ultimately, conversions are not easy, and it might take a healthcare organization months or even years just to even get back to the previous bottom-line. This results in millions of dollars in revenue gone over the course of an implementation. However, there is another option. If you work for a healthcare organization looking for a way to save time and money as they convert to a new EMR or EHR, third-party implementation experts should be considered.

There are many healthcare IT consultants that focus on partnering with healthcare systems during conversions. With expertise in EHR and EMR conversions, they can partner with your hospital and even offer proprietary software that helps the process go smoothly and catch leaking revenue before it can happen. To see how software like Avelead’s RevID can help your hospital, schedule a demo today: