Healthcare patients need the ability to access their medical records outside of the doctor’s office, which means health care providers must adopt an electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR) system. EHR and EMR platforms are constantly improving, and it’s more helpful to doctors and their practices than ever before. Keep scrolling to learn more about EHR and EMR solutions, or use our Product Selection Tool to get a free shortlist of personalized vendor recommendations.

Is There a Difference Between EHR and EMR?

Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are the predecessors to modern EHRs. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. EMR solutions essentially store digital versions of paper patient charts, while EHR platforms significantly expand upon the medical data capabilities offered by electronic medical records.

EMR systems store information on patients at hospitals and clinics, but that information never leaves the location where it was originally compiled. This means a new patient record must be created any time a patient goes to a different hospital, clinic, mental health provider, or another medical care facility.

EHRs, on the other hand, allow providers to share patient information with other hospitals, clinics, labs, and specialists as necessary. This allows a patient’s medical history to follow them across healthcare facilities, and it helps health care providers deliver better care when seeing new patients. By sharing this personal health record between facilities, doctors have access to more accurate and up to date information.

EHRs also include features for population health management, which can help inform doctors about health trends in their local area.

What Is Electronic Health Records Software?

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Electronic health records software is a system that hospitals and medical practices use to manage and share patient medical records and automate clinical workflows, including billing and claims. EHRs allow healthcare providers to create, update, share, and securely store patient and population information digitally.

EHR and electronic medical records (EMR) are terms often used interchangeably, but EMR software doesn’t offer the same sharing capabilities as EHR software.

Encouraged by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, EHR software is now the charting standard for the majority of US healthcare facilities. The US EHR market is growing, and many countries around the world are also transitioning to digital records. As of 2020, EHRs had reached an 89% adoption rate — an all-time high.

Types of Electronic Health Records Systems

There are several different types of EHR systems, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

  • Physician-hosted system: Hosted on a physician’s own servers and requires the physician to purchase all necessary hardware and software, as well as handling their own maintenance and security.
  • Subsidized remote system: Smaller clinics might form relationships with hospitals or medical networks to cover some of the costs of an EHR system. The system will then be hosted at the network’s or hospital’s headquarters, and physicians will be able to access it remotely.
  • Dedicated remote system: The EHR vendor stores all of the practice’s data on its servers and provides remote access. Physicians lose any control over the data storage methods and locations, but aren’t responsible for maintenance.
  • Cloud remote system: EHR vendors store their clients’ data in the cloud. Physicians can easily access their data through the vendor’s website, and they aren’t responsible for maintenance.

Compare the Best EHR Systems

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Epic EHR logo.


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Cerner EHR logo.


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CareCloud EHR logo.


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Athenahealth EHR logo.


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eClinicalWorks EHR logo.


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Allscripts EHR logo.


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NextGen Healthcare logo.

NextGen Healthcare

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Product Voice Recognition Configurable Dashboards E-Prescribing Video Conferencing


Epic EHR internal view.

Epic is one of the most well-known vendors of EHR software, exceedingly popular among large healthcare organizations. It provides medical practices with an easy-to-use patient portal, so they can send appointment reminders, prescription information, and any notes on the visit.

Industry-specific modules, including options for cardiology, fertility, and transplants, make it easier for each practice to get the tools and features they need.

Also read: Cerner vs. Epic: Comparing the Biggest EHR Vendors


  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Large number of specialty modules
  • Telemedicine is built into the platform


  • Has a steep learning curve
  • Implementation fees can be expensive


Cerner EHR internal view.

Cerner is another big-name vendor in the EHR space, with high use among ambulatory care and clinical practices. Oracle and Cerner recently reached a purchase agreement, placing Cerner under the Oracle umbrella by the end of 2022. As a result, Cerner has native integrations to other Oracle products.

Offering clinical solutions for a variety of specialties, the platform streamlines patient accounting and administrative workflows.


  • Good interoperability through the CommonWell Health Alliance
  • Offers digital healthcare plans that cover telemedicine and reduce physician workloads
  • Patient portal includes HIPAA-compliant chat functionality


  • Some users complain about repetitive or overly complex workflows
  • Has a steep learning curve


CareCloud EHR internal view.

CareCloud EHR provides flexible charting options and configurable templates, allowing physicians to customize their system to the needs of their practice. Rich patient summaries make it easy for physicians to get critical patient info at a glance, while real-time intelligence helps improve decisions by highlighting crucial variables like drug interactions.

In addition to EHR, CareCloud also offers practice management, telehealth, and more to give practices a full medical software suite.


  • Documentation can be customized for each discipline
  • Easy-to-use, cloud-based platform
  • Drag-and-drop scheduling options


  • Some users complain about the system’s reliability
  • Customer support seems to be unhelpful and difficult to reach


Athenahealth EHR internal view.

Athenahealth EHR offers intuitive workflows and real-time insights to improve clinical efficiency and care coordination. A member of the CommonWell Health Alliance, Athenahealth makes it easy to share patient records with other physicians and specialists.

Further, the mobile app is fully integrated with the EHR system, so doctors don’t have to be at a workstation to make updates.


  • Easy scheduling options
  • Cloud hosting makes it cheaper and logistically easier to use
  • Large number of integrations available via the marketplace


  • Several users complain about poor and unresponsive customer service
  • Ongoing billing services are expensive


eClinicalWorks EHR internal view.

eClinicalWorks EHR is a cloud-based platform, complete with a health information search engine to connect patient records from different practices and give a timeline view of the patient’s health history. Interoperability is possible through the CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality frameworks.

Physicians also get access to a virtual assistant that lets them book appointments, compare notes, and view an account balance without leaving their workflow.


  • Easy to navigate and use
  • Customizable for the practice’s needs
  • Large number of features simplifies a variety of workflows


  • The system can sometimes freeze, causing delays
  • Several users complain about poor customer service


Allscripts EHR internal view.

Allscripts offers several different EHR products, depending on the type of facility it is serving. The Sunrise solution includes business intelligence combined with clinical and financial data to improve quality measures, while Paragon offers a streamlined database to improve patient outcomes and adapt to changing regulations faster. There are options for independent practices, large healthcare networks, and everything in between.


  • Easy-to-use and accessible platform
  • Prescriptions are easy to send to pharmacies
  • Improves communication about patients


  • Software can have slow loading times
  • Practices have to pay for tech support packages

NextGen Healthcare

NextGen Healthcare EHR internal view.

NextGen Healthcare EHR automates reporting to meet compliance requirements and improve the quality of patient care. It’s scalable and customizable to meet the needs of each practice, and patients get access to 24/7 care to increase engagement.

Thanks to insights at the point of care, physicians can also improve population health and provide better care and financial outcomes for their patients.


  • US-based support team
  • Easy to use and offers responsive support
  • Streamlines scheduling workflows


  • Customization can introduce glitches
  • Attachment sizes are limited to 5MB

Key Features of Electronic Health Records Systems

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EHR systems should improve workflows for physicians and administrative staff, while also giving patients better access to their data. Healthcare organizations looking for EHR software should prioritize the following features.

Easy Scheduling

Many EHR tools offer drag-and-drop schedule makers, so admins can easily add new appointments and quickly make changes. It also updates in real-time, so patients or receptionists can’t double-book physicians. Once the appointment is on the books, the EHR system can also send reminders to patients to reduce no-shows.

Shareable Information

Interoperability is the key differentiator between EHR and EMR systems. EHR tools should be able to send charts and other records to specialists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers working with their patients to improve the quality of care.

Doctors need to know how each medication they prescribe will interact with what the patient is already taking, and sharing records is the best way to ensure they have all of this necessary information.

Digital Charts

Paper charts are outdated, can be easily lost or destroyed, and may be hard to read depending on the doctor’s handwriting. EHR systems should include a digital charting system with pre-built and customizable templates to cater to the practice’s specialty.

Digital charts are easy to access, and physicians can update them as needed without adding pages of notes for each new visit.

Patient Portals

A patient portal allows patients to access their electronic medical records and interact with their healthcare providers online. It is usually a standalone application that integrates into the existing site of a provider, but EHRs can also include modules for patient portals.

Some patient portals allow patients to register for office visits and complete check-ups online. Patients can also request prescription refills, order eyeglasses and contact lenses, access medical records, pay bills, and review lab results without ever leaving their homes.

Also read: Optimizing Your Patient Portal for Maximum Engagement

Benefits of Electronic Health Records Software

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EHR software reduces the paperwork physicians have to do to provide better care to their patients. It should also deliver cohesive information to each provider the patient sees, creating a comprehensive record of their medical status and history.

Secure Sharing

EHR systems can securely send patient records to specialists or other physicians to provide an accurate medical history and improve quality of care. Many EHR systems are part of multi-vendor alliances, which allow practices to easily and securely share information with each other in order to follow patients’ medical journeys.

Less Paperwork

With digital charts and reports, medical professionals have less paperwork to find and keep track of when working with patients. With less paperwork, physicians can see patients faster, reduce the time needed to write reports after visits, and access charts more quickly. Digital reports also reduce the guesswork associated with attempting to decipher someone else’s handwriting.

More Accurate Prescriptions

Thanks to the clinical decision support (CDS) systems found in EHR software, physicians can improve the accuracy of their prescriptions, quickly ruling out any options that will trigger an allergic reaction or negatively interact with other medications.

Improved Care

When doctors all have access to the same information via their EHR system, they can provide better care to their patients. They’ll know which tests have already been run, what medication their patient is currently taking, and any past diagnoses that could inform future care. EHR systems also reduce human error and remove some of the burden from patients.

Disadvantages of Electronic Health Records

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While EHR software has become the standard for healthcare organizations, it can be difficult to implement and manage, and it may introduce some security risks.


EHR systems are fairly expensive. Typically, the more robust they are, the longer they take to implement. Each person who is going to use the system will need to be trained on it, and organizations will need to connect it to the other software they use, like billing or practice management software. Cloud-based systems are typically easier to implement, but they still require extensive training.

Privacy & Security

Digitally storing medical records can lead to privacy and security risks, as digital archives can be hacked. The good news is, most EHR systems include robust security measures, including identity and access management (IAM) and encryption.

Healthcare organizations also need to have their own security measures in place and train their employees on how to keep data secure and private.

Also read: Healthcare Cybersecurity: Preparations You Need to Make Now

Requires Frequent Updates

In order for it to be effective, medical professionals have to update their EHR software regularly. Digital charts are not useful if they don’t contain the most up-to-date information, and it’s very difficult to assess the effectiveness of treatments if doctors aren’t noting their patient’s progress.

Doctors are already busy, and they’re unlikely to give the necessary time to updates unless they’ve bought into the system.

Finding the Best EHR Software for Your Organization

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There are many electronic health records systems on the market, and finding the right one depends on the size of your practice, your medical discipline, and the features you need. Small organizations will likely prefer cloud-based systems, while major hospital networks probably have the overhead needed to host their own EHR tool.

Additionally, not every EHR system includes modules for every specialty, so you’ll need to check that a platform has what you need before signing a contract.

To find the best EHR software for your organization, use our Product Selection Tool by filling out the form on the right side of this page. It’s completely free and in as little as five minutes, you’ll get a list of software to meet your practice’s needs.

Read next: Healthcare Trends Private Practices Need to Watch

What Is EMR Software?

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Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are the predecessors to modern EHRs. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. EMR solutions essentially store digital versions of paper patient charts, while EHR platforms significantly expand upon the medical data capabilities offered by electronic medical records.

EMR systems store information on patients at hospitals and clinics, but that information never leaves the location where it was originally compiled. This means a new patient record must be created any time a patient goes to a different hospital, clinic, mental health provider, or another medical care facility.

Types of Electronic Medical Records Systems

There are several types of EMR systems that healthcare providers can choose from, mostly differing in their form of deployment and how hands-on the vendor is.

  • On-premises: The organization installs the software onto its own servers. This format typically involves more upfront expense and a longer deployment. Once the sale is complete, the vendor has no further involvement, except to answer support questions.
  • Private cloud: In an attempt to make EMR software more affordable for small practices initially, vendors will host the system on a private cloud. This lowers the upfront costs for implementation, but could be more expensive overall.
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): Removes the upfront costs associated with implementing EMR software in favor of a monthly fee. This works better for nationwide providers. Additionally, the vendor handles the maintenance and management of the software.
  • Cloud-based services: Similar to SaaS, cloud-based EMR vendors host their clients’ systems in the cloud, removing the upfront costs and charging a monthly fee. However, these vendors are more involved with their clients, offering more knowledge and back-end services.

Large medical facilities and hospital networks may have the capital necessary to install their EMR software on-premises, but independent providers should focus on cloud-based and SaaS options to lower their overhead and maintenance requirements.

Also read: Key Considerations for Evaluating Cloud vs. On-Premise Software

Compare the Best Electronic Medical Records Systems

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Praxis EMR logo.

Praxis EMR

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Centricity EMR logo.

Centricity EMR

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DrChrono EMR logo.


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WebPT EMR logo.


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InSync Healthcare Solutions EMR logo.

InSync Healthcare Solutions

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Experity EMR logo.


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Product Claims Management Medical Billing E-Prescribing Practice Management

Praxis EMR

Praxis EMR internal view.

Praxis EMR includes artificial intelligence (AI) that adapts to a doctor’s methods and helps them create a checklist for cases to reduce human error. The AI also automates repetitive tasks to reduce a physician’s workload.

The system doesn’t include templates, allowing providers to structure charts in the way that works best for them. Supporting 75 different specialties, Praxis has features to meet the needs of most providers.


  • Easy to tailor to the user’s needs
  • Learns from the user to shorten data entry time
  • Designated support contact for quick and helpful responses


  • Can have a steep learning curve, especially while training the AI
  • Some users experience glitches

Centricity EMR

Centricity EMR internal view.

Centricity EMR from GE Healthcare is best suited to larger practices, due to its inclusion of clinical and financial management tools. Practices can use the reporting tools to compare themselves to competitors and improve patient care and employee recruitment strategies.

Centricity tracks patient data, makes it easy for doctors to access and update records, and provides an e-prescribing function.


  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Allows users to open multiple windows
  • Pre-loaded templates for easy charting


  • Some users complain about downtime
  • Can crash if too many people are using it simultaneously


DrChrono EMR internal view.

DrChrono EMR is available on desktop, mobile phone, tablet, and even Apple Watch, allowing providers to make updates without being chained to a workstation. The mobile app enables users to take and upload photos to a patient’s file.

Included in the system are patient engagement, workflows, scheduling, and billing to keep providers from needing to learn multiple interfaces.


  • Easy onboarding
  • Open API for integrations
  • Customizable templates


  • Customer support can be inconsistent
  • Some features aren’t intuitive


WebPT EMR internal view.

WebPT is an EMR system geared towards physical therapists. Providers can create custom evaluation profiles, choose from evidence-based tests, and use automation to complete measurements. The platform continuously updates to meet changing compliance requirements, while also providing built-in alerts to prevent human error.

Providers can upload PDF documents, diagnostic images, and patient intake files to create complete records.


  • Alerts and reports help practices maintain compliance
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Visual scheduler


  • The interface is outdated
  • Some users complain about frequent connection issues

InSync Healthcare Solutions

InSync Healthcare Solutions EMR internal view.

InSync Healthcare Solutions offers cloud-based EMR software with patient management, e-prescribing, and telehealth. Providers can choose from over 80 assessment types and build custom forms to improve quality of care.

InSync offers comprehensive implementation configured to each practice’s needs, as well as training services to make sure all users are comfortable with the system.


  • Customizable to the organization’s needs
  • Regular updates to improve features
  • Friendly and helpful support team


  • Reports are not fully customizable
  • Patient portal is only available in English


Experity EMR internal view.

Experity is an EMR system designed for urgent care practices that includes practice management. Pre-built chart templates for the most common urgent center visits help providers begin evaluation faster. Automated tasks and calculations reduce human error, while real-time chart updates speed up clinical workflows.

The business intelligence features also offer actionable insights to improve the quality of care and financial performance.


  • Easy to use and intuitive
  • Allows users to create new templates
  • Charts are easy to read and well-formatted


  • Some users complain about freezing or lagging
  • Scanned documents don’t always save correctly

Key Features of EMR Systems

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EMR systems need to improve workflows for providers, enabling them to spend more time with patients and less time charting. These are the features practices investing in an EMR platform should look for.


EMR systems are difficult to implement and many have steep learning curves. Vendors should offer training to offset some of the difficulty in the beginning and help staff learn how to get the most out of the features. Training can be on-site or remote, and there should also be support available for questions after training has concluded.

Document Scanning

In order to create complete patient records, an EMR system should support document scanning, so old files can be added to a patient’s profile. Providers should be able to upload lab results, bodily scans (x-rays, MRIs, etc.), and patient intake forms to keep the information as organized as possible.

Appointment Reminders

No-shows or late arrivals can cause major issues for medical practices, so EMR systems should send appointment reminders to patients. Emails, texts, or automated phone calls allow patients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments ahead of time, giving providers the ability to fill empty slots.

Prescription Tracking

Doctors need to know what medications their patients are currently taking before prescribing them anything new. EMR software should include prescription tracking features that provide the patient’s prescription history and alert the provider if new medications will interfere with existing ones.

Benefits of Electronic Medical Records Software

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EMR software improves the quality of patient care and reduces the amount of time providers have to spend charting.

Fewer Errors

Digital charts are easier to read than paper charts, preventing doctors from misreading notes from previous visits. Additionally, the chart templates create a checklist doctors can follow without missing steps, and automated calculations reduce human error.

Faster & Improved Care

Because EMR systems can automate repetitive tasks during clinical workflows, doctors can spend more time with their patients, improving the quality of care. This automation also speeds up the charting process, so doctors don’t have to spend as much time entering data between visits or after hours.

Also read: What Doctors Want from Medical Technology


When doctors can lessen the time spent charting, they have more time available to see new patients, allowing their practice to grow. Additionally, paper charts take up a lot of storage space, but digital charts don’t — especially with cloud-based EMR systems. EMR software allows practices to scale without necessarily requiring additional space or staff.

Prevents Conflicting or Duplicate Treatments

EMR systems often include clinical decision support (CDS), which alerts physicians if they attempt to prescribe a treatment or medication that would conflict with a patient’s current plan. Additionally, the charts would include treatment history, preventing doctors from ordering duplicate labs.

Disadvantages of EMR Software

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While EMR software can be helpful, it’s also expensive and may not provide all of the functionality medical practices need.


Unlike EHR software, EMR systems can’t share patient data with other providers. Instead, all of the information is locked into the system. This is good for privacy, but places part of the burden of care onto the patient. If shareability and interoperability are important to the provider, they should look at EHR systems instead.


EMR software is not cheap, especially if the vendor has to customize it to the practice. And modules for specific disciplines may cost extra. Healthcare organizations should make sure they know what’s included in the EMR system and what they’ll need to add on before signing a contract.

Increased Workloads

While EMR systems can streamline workflows for many providers, they can also add extra work. Providers have to be meticulous about updating the platform in order to improve their patients’ quality of care. If they only make the bare minimum updates, they won’t be able to track progress or provide better outcomes for their patients.

Choosing the Best EMR System for Your Organization

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Finding the best EMR solution for your healthcare organization comes down to finding a platform that caters to your specialty and provides the features you need. Independent practices should consider EMR platforms that include or integrate with practice management, billing, and patient accounting tools, while major hospitals may prefer a cloud-based medical suite that includes EMR.

For a free, customized list of EMR software recommendations, use our Product Selection Tool by filling out the form on the right side of this page. Alternatively, you can call us at (855) 718-1369 to speak with one of our experts.

Read next: The Best HIPAA Compliant Video Conferencing Tools for Telehealth

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