FAQs About EHR Basics

What are electronic health records (EHRs)?

Electronic health records (EHRs) are the records that your healthcare provider uses to record your health status and history. The records may contain a range of information, including your demographic details, diagnoses, treatments, medications, vaccinations, and laboratory test results.

Are EHRs the same as electronic medical records? What other names are EHRs commonly known by?

You might come across several different names for your digital health information, including electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs), and personal health records. Though the names may vary, they all contain information about your health status and history.

In addition, some healthcare providers might not use any of these specific terms. For example, they may refer to your 'health information' or 'health summary.' No matter the term used, all this information is valuable to MS research efforts.

Do I have an EHR?

Most people have health records, but not everyone's health record is in an electronic format. More and more healthcare providers are switching from paper to electronic records, a trend which is expected to continue. You can check with your healthcare providers to see what kinds of electronic records they keep.

What is an EHR used for?

Health records are used by your healthcare team to track your health status and medical history. Your healthcare team may include your primary care doctor, specialists, insurers, pharmacists, and lab technicians — all of whom have been responsible for different parts of your healthcare. EHRs utilize computer technology to store this important data in a secure format. Ideally, EHR data can easily be shared among your healthcare team to help ensure high-quality care.

Why are EHRs so important?

First, EHRs provide a way for your healthcare providers to track the care you've received over time and across different doctors' offices. EHRs store your health status and medical history in a secure electronic format, making it easier for your whole health team to access the same information. Ideally, this results in more coordinated care, helping to improve your treatment and overall health.

Second, research using EHRs has the potential to be very powerful. These records document the health status and medical history of you and millions of other Americans, and this massive amount of data can be used to answer all kinds of newly emerging research questions. By sharing what you can, you play an important part in pioneering this new research.