SIS vs. EHR: The Differences Between These Systems (and Why You Need Both)
School districts may choose to have both a Student Information System (SIS) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system for a variety of reasons, as they serve different purposes and cater to distinct aspects of student well-being and education.
Here are some reasons why it can be beneficial for school districts to have both systems in place:
SIS primarily focuses on student demographics, enrollment, scheduling, attendance, grades, and academic records, whereas EHR systems are designed to manage students’ health-related information, such as immunizations, medical history, allergies, and medication administration. Having separate systems ensures that each area is given specialized attention.
Here’s a quick breakdown on the kinds of data you might find in a SIS versus an EHR system:
SIS: Academic data, such as grades, attendance, class schedules, and disciplinary records
EHR: Health-related data, including medical histories, treatment plans, medication administration, immunization records, and health assessments
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Both student academic and health records are subject to various legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for academic records. Maintaining separate systems can help ensure compliance with these regulations.
For reporting purposes, too, it’s much easier using purpose-built systems. Like any other type of reporting that schools do, health reporting requires certain information and formatting, and purpose-built systems (like EHRs) are built to do just that.
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Health records contain sensitive information, and having a separate EHR system can help maintain the confidentiality and security of health-related data. This separation can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to personal health information.
SIS and EHR systems are designed with features specific to their respective functions. SIS systems are tailored for academic needs, including grading, scheduling, and reporting, while EHR systems are tailored for health-related data tracking and management.
Below you’ll find a quick overview of different features to expect with each system.
SIS: Features typically include gradebook management, attendance tracking, student scheduling, report generation, and communication tools for teachers and parents.
EHR: Features often include medical charting, immunization tracking, medication administration, allergy alerts, and health assessment tools.
Efficiency and Accuracy
Specialized systems tend to be more efficient and accurate in managing data. In particular with health data, it’s much easier to report accurate data to the state when you have an EHR with form fields that make it easy for staff to fill in information that’s needed in the right format. If you’re submitting any claims to Medicaid for eligible health services, this factor can mean the difference between getting the reimbursement you’re owed and being left without.
Ease of Access
Having separate systems allows school staff to access the information they need without being overwhelmed by unrelated data. Teachers, for instance, can use the SIS for academic data, and the school nurse or health staff can use the EHR for health-related information. Not only can this be easier for end users, but it’s also safer for student health data security.
As school districts grow, they may need to scale their systems accordingly. As your school’s physical and mental health programs grow, an EHR can grow with your district and help you manage any increases in health needs, screenings, and more.
Training and Support
Training staff to use specialized systems can be more manageable than teaching them to navigate a single, complex, all-encompassing system. Additionally, support and troubleshooting can be more focused and effective with separate systems.
In summary, having both a Student Information System (SIS) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system offers several advantages in terms of specialization, data security, compliance, and efficiency in managing the distinct needs of student academic and health information within a school district.
Elise is a writer and member of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. A former member of Frontline’s events team, she is passionate about making connections, whether that be in person at events, online via social media or directly in her writing.