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electronic health record (EHR)

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:
> 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

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Thanks for sharing. You have defined EHR and its benefits very precisely. I agree that cost is the top hurdle for EHR implementation. US Health Policy is providing $44K bonus to the practices and professionals adopting <a href="">EHR Electronic Health Records</a>
Thanks for sharing.
Electronic health record management
Thank you for the article. I think it's easy to get bogged down. Keeping it simple and rolling your sleeves up is how to start getting something done:
Nice article. Thx 4 it
I am using an app which helps me perfectly organize my health records electronically. you can download the app here
Alex Tate
Nicely explained the key features of an EHR, however even in this day and age it’s very hard to find an EHR which suits your specific specialty and is customizable according to your workflows. Interoperability issues along with hefty costs are driving physician’s major headaches. For me, CureMD’s all in one solution is a huge life saver, not only is it customizable according to my specialty, it’s also cost effective and easy to use. Read more The Importance of RCM click here


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