Electronic Health Record (EHR)

What is an electronic health record (EHR)?

An electronic health record (EHR) is a digitized patient record that updates automatically and follows a patient through their care journey. EHRs comprise data such as diagnoses, medical history, demographics, medications, immunizations, radiology data, laboratory results, vitals and notes. EHRs also have various decision-making features and can be shared amongst healthcare providers.   

EHR systems can be inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient EHR systems are used in the hospital environment and operate across departments, showing interoperability. In contrast, outpatient EHR systems, also known as ambulatory EHR systems, are used in outpatient environments and smaller physician practices.  

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reported that U.S. hospital EHR adoption recently reached 96%. As of June 2021, the top three EHR vendors were Epic, Cerner and MEDITECH.    

Why are electronic health records (EHRs) important to healthcare?

Electronic health records are important because they securely manage patient records without written notes. They also decrease the number of medical errors and improve the accessibility of data sharing. This promotes increased communication between providers and patients, resulting in better patient care.