An article in yesterday’s National Post entitled “Better data save lives” highlights the confusion arising from the use of two similar but very different terms – Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR). Although the article only used the term “electronic health record”, it actually referred to both types of electronic records. This confusion extends beyond the mainstream press – have a look at this exchange in an online forum devoted to EMRs. To make matters even more confusing, Canada Health Infoway (and many provinces) uses the term EMR to refer systems used in physician offices while the US uses EHR for these very same systems.
Does it really make a difference what people call these systems? In the overall scheme of things, likely not. However, if you are trying to understand how public money is being spent, the difference becomes quite important. It is unfortunate that two very similar phrases have been chosen to describe different concepts and that different jurisdictions have chosen to further complicate matters by using the same term in different ways.
This messy situation won’t be changed anytime soon. All I can suggest is that you pay careful attention to the context in which these phrases are used and be wary of incorrect use of these terms in the public media.