This might seem like the smallest of peccadilloes to you and me, but to the public, it is one more reason to be fearful and suspicious of technology. If the pros can't agree on what to call something, who can blame them?
As technology finally makes its way into healthcare, the next great challenge is to simplify its use and even how we talk about it. The science behind medicine is an incredibly rich collection of ideas and language. But while we pour money into the science and the technology, we must also make it understandable to the beneficiaries, especially if they are to become part of the care team, which they must.
Simplifying is never easy. The EMR vs. EHR conundrum may remain unsolved, for example.
"The way I see it, the EMR is a subset of the EHR," says Rasu B. Shrestha, MD, MBA, vice president of medical information technology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"At UPMC, we have several EMRs (one for inpatient, one for outpatient, one for our affiliate physicians and yet another one for our oncologists). I generally refer to the individual systems as EMRs, and the composite of all of the EMRs, along with the systems associated with the EMRs (such as the imaging platforms, interoperability solutions, labs, registries, etc.), together can be referred to as the EHR."
Shrestha notes that this is similar to the definitions offered up by the ONC in January 2011, which in the midst of its pronouncements left the door open wide enough for the EMR term to live on for some time to come.
So simple, yet so complex.