It’s time to stop calling them EHRs

It’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:  whethere 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.  


Let’s call it health IT – or even better – “IT for health.”