EMR System vs. EMR Software

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You will often find most EMR vendors as well as Physicians using EMR System and EMR Software interchangeably leading the readers to believe that they stand for the same product.  In fact, as explained below, they are quite different and in fact EMR Software is one of the components of an EMR System.

The term “system” originates from the Greek term syst¯ema, which means to “place together” and defines a system as an integrated set of interoperable elements, each with explicitly specified and pre-defined capabilities, working seamlessly to perform value-added processing to enable a user to achieve set objectives.

What is EMR System?

An Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System includes the following components:

  1. Infrastructure – Physical and hardware system components, for example, Workstations and Servers, Tablet PC, Laptops, Monitors, Scanners, Networking components like Routers and Bridges, etc.
  2. Software – Application software (EMR or EHR Software), Operating System software (Windows 2003 server, for example), utilities, and other applications like Instant Messaging, Fax Servers, Networking Software, Lab interfaces (with Quest, Labcorp), ePrescription, etc..
  3. People – Personnel involved in using, maintaining or managing the EMR – this includes the Clinical and administrative staff, Physicians, etc . All these people need to receive appropriate level of training in order to use the EMR effectively.
  4. Business Processes – Guidelines, instructions, and steps involved in keeping the EMR System running smoothly. This includes patient appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, billing, co-pay, etc.
  5. Data – Information captured, used, and supported by a system, including documents, images and databases.

It is clearly evident that EMR software is just one component of an EMR System and is therefore only one of the components of an EMR System. It is simply not good enough to assemble motley of ill-fitting components in a Clinic and expect them to make your operations more efficient since the various components may not work seamlessly and will certainly not perform value added processing.

When Physicians buy EMR Software from EMR Vendors, they will typically get the following:

  1. EMR or EHR Software (Application software)
  2. Application Database (with required Database objects like files, triggers, procedures, etc.)
  3. Configurable Lab and Pharmacy interfaces
  4. Specifications of recommended commonly required and used hardware and software

As you can see, there is a vast difference between the components listed above (as part of an EMR System) and what the EMR Vendors will typically provide.

Physicians can provide quality healthcare to their patients but do not have the necessary expertise to assemble all the components required to build and implement an EMR System that will integrate all the required pieces of hardware and software. It is a collaborative exercise that requires close co-operation between the EMR vendor, Clinical Staff, Administrative (Billing) Staff, Information Technology (IT) Support staff, Physicians, etc.

By working with an expert EMR Consulting company or an EMR Systems Integrator to build and integrate all required components of a customized EMR System, physicians can reduce the risk involved with any Systems Integration project, ensure successful implementation and maximize their return on investment from EMR or EHR Software deployment.

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