A medical records specialist should have a clear understanding of the difference between EMR and EHR.

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a digital record of a patient’s paper chart within a single facility, such as a doctor’s office or a clinic.Its purpose is to record patient’s treatment history (lab and test results, immunization, allergies, medication, diagnoses, vital signs). An EMR helps a health provider to track data over time, keep preventive visits and screenings up to date, and improve the quality of care. EMRs have advantages over paper charts but they do not travel easily between healthcare providers. The patient’s records have to be printed out and delivered by mail or in person to other facilities.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) accomplishes all of the things as an EMR and more. EHRs are intended to extend beyond the health institution that initially gathers and compiles the data. They are designed to share health data between healthcare providers. They allow for faster access to the latest patient’s health information, such as lab and test results, immunization, allergies, medication, diagnoses, medical histories, vital signs. EHR’s provide improved efficiency, quality care, cost reduction, and medical error elimination. 

Medical records professionals are expected to have the following qualities:

  • Analytical Skills – ability to understand health records and diagnoses, applying correct codes for filling and billing purposes 
  • Technical Skills – performing medical coding and data analysis using classification software and EHR systems 
  • Detail Oriented – reviewing patient’s records for accuracy, organizing and maintaining data, assigning codes for billing and analyzing data using classification software can be a very complex process, therefore, when processing medical information accuracy and attention to detail is of high importance 
  • Communication Skills – ability to discuss medical/patient information, discrepancies and information requirements with other professionals (physicians, insurance providers, etc.) 
  • Integrity – discretion and a strong sense of ethics are required when working with medical information in order to protect patient confidentiality.

Education and Career Opportunity

The application of EHRs and medical coding is providing various career advancement and employment opportunities in the healthcare sector. To enter the field of Health Information Management (HIM)a minimum of high school diploma or prior experience in a medical environment are sufficient to qualify for some positions,but a majority of jobs for health information management require post-secondary education. A nationally recognized certification or an associate’s degree is often a prerequisite.

The HIM profession offers many opportunities for growth and advancement. There is no need to stay with exactly the same job position for the next 20 years, discover new career opportunities in medical and health services, medical transcription, medical billing and coding, health information management, cancer registrars, data collection.

Advantages of Certification Training

Although a high school diploma or prior experience in a medical environment are sufficient to qualify for some positions in health information management, a majority of jobs in this field require post-secondary education. An industry recognized certification is a prerequisite for many jobs available today. It is also a way to stand out among other candidates and it is the fastest way to prove qualifications and certain standard of competence. There is less on-the-job training required, which saves employers time and resources. A certification proves to employers that the candidate is serious about their career path.