Monday, February 9, 2015

Electronic Health Record or Electronic Medical Record? EHR or EMR? Which One Is It?

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To tell you the truth. I have no idea.

Over two years ago when our team started developing our strategy, we used both acronyms interchangeably. Somewhere along the way we landed on EHR. I eventually even found myself correcting people when they said “EMR” — as if I was some authority. I think EHR is correct but I have nothing to base that on other than my own propensity to always believe I am right — which is a serious personal issue but thankfully for you not the topic of this blog post.

Anyhow, there is no changing for our team. It's too late. Maybe some of you have a chance to get it right. So let's do a little research and see what acronym the experts use.

Let’s first turn to the all knowing source, Google. A search using the term “EHR” brings back 1.1mm results; the search term “EMR” brings back 1.25mm results. And the top search results are all the same; paid advertisers purchasing placement through Google Adwords are paying for both EHR and EMR. Swami Google tells us EHR and EMR are used interchangeably.

Score: EHR 1 to EMR 1

Next, let's take a look at what acronym Health and Human Services (HHS) uses. HHS is driving the build out and use of EHRs (or EMRs) through financial incentives and the requirements of the Meaningful Use program.

A review of HHS' website shows they exclusively use the acronym EHR. In fact, Peter Garrett, former Director, HHS Office of Communication and Joshua Seidman PHD, former Director of Meaningful Use addressed this issue in a blog posted on January 2011 in Health IT Buzz. While the authors admit in the blog that it might seem “picky” they write that the difference is actually “quite significant”.

The blog post states that the acronym EMR was used first but that term is too narrow as it refers only to the patient medical chart in electronic form. The acronym EHR is more inclusive of all the capabilities needed from a health IT system.

Score: EHR 2 - EMR 1

For the next round in the match, let's look at what acronym the Titans of the Industry use.

Judy Faulkner, CEO, Epic Systems, used the term "Electronic Health Record" in a Forbes Interview, in May 2013. This is one of the only media interviews she has ever conducted; she is reported to be an intensively private Billionaire (aren’t they all). So we’ll need to take this as her preferred term.

Steven T. Plochocki, President and CEO, Quality Systems Inc. (NextGen), used the acronym EHR when answering a question during a recent investor roundtable on September 30, 2014. And that was after the moderator used the acronym EMR in the question.

Paul Black, President & Chief Executive Officer, Allscripts used the acronym EHR multiple times during an August 2014 interview with Health IT News. And all the corporate presentations posted on Allscripts website use the acronym EHR.

Neal Patterson, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Co-Founder, Cerner Corporation used the acronym EMR 7 times during an October 2013 interview with Healthcare IT and Opinion. He even got the moderator to switch to that acronym during the interview.

OK. That’s 3 out of 4 of the industry leaders using the acronym EHR. Score one more for EHR.

Score: EHR 3 - EMR 1

Finally, what acronym do Healthcare Providers use.

The most recent press release release (Jan 29, 2015) on the subject from the American Medical Association used the acronym EHR. Not a single AMA press release since 2009 has used the acronym EMR. In fact, a search of the major medical societies shows a near exclusive use of the acronym EHR.

Looks like EHR wins the match with a score of 4 to 1.

Whew. Our team got it right. If you have not landed on a term yet that is almost impossible to get out of your corporate lingo, you should start using the acronym EHR. If it is too late for you, so what! Who cares! Both terms are often used interchangeably and people get what you mean.


About the author: Craig Kemp, Innovative Partnerships, Merck Vaccines, has over 24 years of experience in healthcare marketing and sales. He has a passion for and specializes in all aspects of the physician "buy and bill" commercial model. Craig leads Merck Vaccine’s efforts with Electronic Health Record companies and other health IT partners. One of his team’s EHR programs was recently recognized with a PM360 Trailblazer Gold Award in the EHR category.

Prior to joining Merck, Craig served in the United States Air Force. He retired after 20 years of active and reserve service. He is an accomplished life science copywriter and holds a B.S. in Marketing and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Utah.

Craig will be participating in the ePharma panel discussion How Will Marketing Innovation Help Pharma Adapt to the Massive Changes in Healthcare? on Wednesday, February 25. Paul Ivans will be moderating the panel featuring Tom McCourt, Chief Commercial Officer, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals; Jeremy Shepler, Patient Centered Strategy and Solutions, Novo Nordisk and Monique Levy, Vice President of Research, Manhattan Research. As a reader of this blog when you register to join us at ePharma, you can save $100 off the current rate when you register with code XP2006BL
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