Again and again I see these terms used interchangeably, casually. I quote providers every week using one, or the other, or sometimes both. HealthLeaders editor Bob Wertz pointed this out, and I had to pause.
Healthcare technology is a complicated beast. We make it more complicated if we're using two terms where one will do.
It turns out that the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator decided on a single term nearly two years ago. In a nutshell, EMR is the older term, dating from a time that the technology often represented little more than scanned images of paper documents.
EHR, the newer and preferred ONC term, encompasses the total health of the patient represented in a digital format, at least according to the ONC.
But in a phone call I had just yesterday morning, a doctor, who I won't name here, used the two terms interchangeably within the first few minutes of our conversation. I made a mental note, then when we were done talking about something unrelated, I brought this to his attention.
His response was that when he's sitting in front of a computer, he usually refers to it as the EMR, but when away from the computer and discussing care issues, it's usually an EHR.