An Electronic Health Record holds patients' medical and health information digitally. Also known as an EHR. An EHR can replace all or part of a patient's paper medical chart and is typically accessed via computer, PDA, or smartphone.
The advantage to using an EHR over a traditional paper medical chart lies in provider decision support. Due to the digital nature of the the record, information about the patient can be organized in a way that allows immediate access to relevent information pertaining to that specific encounter. Immediate access to information provides for better decisions by the provider and therefore contributes to better outcomes. Further, decisions are supported by instant access to current information relative to the patient's condition. Whereas providers used to have to research problems via paper medical journals or the internet, EHRs grant insight into a wealth of specific information that is kept current through a constant stream of digital updates.
Electronic Health Records are used, in part or in whole, for e-prescribing, electronic charge capture, staff tasking, note creation, dictation, transcription or transcribe, and the storage of digitized copies of paper records (document imaging).
The by-product of the move to EHRs is the data. Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIO) are organizations forming with the sole intent to integrate information about a region's patient population. Personal Health Records (PHR) are online-accessable medical charts which are controlled by the patient, rather than the provider.