Electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs) and personal health records (PHRs) are similar terms but have different definitions and distinct purposes. At Canada Health Infoway, the terms are defined as follows:
- Electronic Health Record: An electronic health record (EHR) refers to the systems that make up the secure and private lifetime record of a person's health and health care history. These systems store and share such information as lab results, medication profiles, key clinical reports (e.g., hospital discharge summaries), diagnostic images (e.g., X-rays), and immunization history. The information is available electronically to authorized health care providers.
- Electronic Medical Record: An electronic medical record (EMR) is an office-based system that enables a health care professional, such as a family doctor, to record the information gathered during a patient's visit. This information might include a person's weight, blood pressure and clinical information, and would previously have been hand-written and stored in a file folder in a doctor's office. Eventually the EMR will also allow the doctor to access information about a patient's complete health record, including information from other health care providers that is stored in the EHR.
- Personal Health Record: A complete or partial health record under the custodianship of a person(s) (e.g. a patient or family member) that holds all or a portion of the relevant health information about that person over their lifetime. This is also a person-centric health record, but unlike the EHR, the patient has control or “custodianship” over the record, rather than the health care provider.