What is EMR?

Before I started working at Practice Perfect, I was given a seemingly simple task: explain what EMR is in two or three sentences.


“Two or three sentences? This is going to be easy,” I thought. But after a quick Google search, I found out that I could spend days, even weeks, trying spell out the nuances of such an involved software system. How the heck was I supposed to explain something that people have dedicated entire books to in only two or three sentences?


Well, it’s been nearly seven months since then and I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the question that started it all: what is EMR?


EMR stands for electronic medical records. In some circles they’re referred to as ‘electronic health records’. Although, they have more than a few things in common regardless of what you call them. EMR is essentially the software that you store all of a patients’ information in. It’s the vault where you store all of their contact information, their medical history, and their plan of care. It’s also where you store information about their insurance carrier, their demographic information, and their intake forms. It’s where your front desk staff schedules new appointments and where management creates invoices that are sent to payors. In short, EMR is a lot of things to a lot of people, but the one thing they will always be is an essential component in the day-to-day operations of a clinic.


Today, when I ask myself “What is EMR?”, my answer isn’t what it was six months ago. I no longer see it as the infinitely complicated software system that I once did—I’ve begun see it in terms of its practical uses.


EMR is the way that therapists document a patient’s recovery process and figure out what works best. It’s how clinics submit claims to insurance carriers so that they can help their patients receive affordable healthcare. And most importantly, it’s the way you keep everyone in your clinic on the same page.