It’s Time to Stop Calling Them EHRs


Jacob RiderIt’s time to stop calling them EHRs.  Yes – we also need to stop calling them EMRs.  In 2011, ONC discussed the difference between the two terms, but I think that conversation missed the point:  whether it’s “medical” or “health” that is the focus, these aren’t (shouldn’t be) RECORD systems at all.  We need to expand our expectations from CRUD to something that we really need: smart tools that help us collaborate toward improving health for individuals.   In November, when I floated this concept, I was teased (corrected?) for focusing on terminology and missing the point that we need EHRs to do more than just store data.

But it’s more than just terminology.  Our words mean a lot. A “record” system is for storage of records.  It saves information.  Our expectations will always focus on storing and retrieving information.  

That’s the core of the design.  But in other industries – we’ve seen migration from information store/retrieve to intelligent platforms that anticipate our needs.  Does storage occur?  Of course it does.  But storage of information is the byproduct of collaboration and not the goal.

Jacob Reider is an advisor at Khosla Ventures. He blogs at DocNotes, where this post first appeared.


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3 replies »

  1. One key reason for failure of new EHR implementation is failure to bring over all historical medical records to the new system. EHR vendors should make it clear to hospitals that they do not convert over all data to new systems. Hospitals by now must be aware that they need to engage professional Data management companies who can help transition all the historical clinical and clinical data into the new EHR or archive them. When a nurse is forced to lookup two different systems to get a one year old lab report of a patient, I am sure they are not a happy customer! Check more for successful EHR implementation on

  2. @jacob

    Flawed logic. These systems make it difficult to order an aspirin, and you are dreaming that thse devices can be “smart”???? Really?