Definition

electronic health record (EHR)

Part of the Healthcare IT glossary:

What is electronic health record (EHR)?

An electronic health record (EHR) is an official health record for an individual that is shared among multiple facilities and agencies. Digitized health information systems are expected to improve efficiency and quality of care and, ultimately, reduce costs.

Among other types of data, an EHR typically includes:

  • Contact information.
  • Information about visits to health care professionals.
  • Allergies.
  • Insurance information.
  • Family history.
  • Immunization status.
  • Information about any conditions or diseases.
  • A list of medications.
  • Records of hospitalization.
  • Information about any surgeries or procedures performed.

The benefits of EHRs include:

  • The ability to automatically share and update information among different offices and organizations.
  • More efficient storage and retrieval.
  • The ability to share multimedia information, such as medical imaging results, among locations.
  • The ability to link records to sources of relevant and current research.
  • Easier standardization of services and patient care.
  • Provision of decision support systems (DSS) for healthcare professionals.
  • Less redundancy of effort.
  • Lower cost to the medical system once implementation is complete.

The governments of many countries are working to ensure that all citizens have standardized electronic health records and that all records include the same types of information. The major barrier for the adoption of electronic health records is cost.

According to David Blumenthal, the United States National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, “Few U.S. doctors or hospitals — perhaps 17% and 10%, respectively — have even basic EHRs, and there are significant barriers to their adoption and use: their substantial cost, the perceived lack of financial return from investing in them, the technical and logistic challenges involved in installing, maintaining, and updating them, and consumers' and physicians' concerns about the privacy and security of electronic health information.”

See also: personal health record (PHR), electronic medical record (EMR)

Learn More About IT:
> SearchHealthIT.com has compiled a list of EHR FAQs

> Linda Tucci writes about 'Locking down security in the move to electronic medical records.'

> David Blumenthal discusses how to stimulate adoption of IT in the health sector

> Brian Eastwood gives tips on meaningful use of EHR

This was last updated in February 2011
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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