The terms electronic health records (EHR) and personal health record (PHR) are sometimes used interchangeably, however, there are important differences between them.

Electronic Health Records:

The National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT) defines EHR as “Aggregate electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created and gathered cumulatively across more than one health care organization, and is managed and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff involved in the individual’s health and care.”

EHR systems are used by health care providers and contains the same data recorded in paper medical records. This includes patient history, medication, lab test results, imaging tests, and others. EHR data contains legally mandated notes on the patient’s care.

Personal Health Records:

A PHR is defined by the NAHIT as “an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be drawn from multiple sources while being managed, shared and controlled by the individual”.

PHR systems are set up and maintained by the patient instead of the health care provider. PHR systems allows patients to store all their health-related information in one location and may even provide additional services. These services may include drug interaction alerts, appointment management, and direct messaging with health care providers.

There is no legal mandate for a patient to store their medical history and health information in a PHR system. Patients can either enter their own data into a PHR or have it connected to an EHR system, which will automatically update information to the PHR.

The main difference between EHR and PHR systems is that EHR systems are manged by health care providers and PHR systems are used by the patient. The terms EHR, PHR, and even electronic medical record (EHR), are frequently used interchangeably, but are actually quite different. Read our previous blog post on the difference between EMR and EHR.

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