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The Emergency Medical Hologram or EMH is a sophisticated holographic program used upon Starfleet starships and facilities in the late 24th century to assist medical staff in times of emergency. The program whose formal name is EMH Program AK-1 Diagnostic and Surgical Subroutine Omega-323 was developed by Doctor Lewis Zimmerman on Jupiter Station. (VOY episodes: "Lifesigns", "The Cloud", "Projections", "Inside Man", "Life Line", DS9 episode: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume")
EMHs are programmed with five million possible treatments from the collective information of 2000 medical references and the experience of 47 individual medical officers, as well as having adaptive programming for situations outside of those in their database. EMHs are only meant to be used a temporary measure to assist existing medical staff, or in extreme cases, to temporarily replace them until a new doctor is assigned. (VOY episodes: "Caretaker", "Future's End, Part I")
Work on the EMH program began as far back as the year 2360 which was conducted by Starfleet Medical, though information on it was known only to a few individuals. (ST - The Lost Era novel: Catalyst of Sorrows)
The Mark I EMH was modelled on Doctor Zimmerman, in both its physical characteristics and personality. This was considered a flaw in the program's design by many Starfleet medical personnel, including Doctor Elizabeth Lense of the USS Lexington. (SCE eBook: War Stories, Book 1)
Several Mark I EMHs continued to serve in their intended roles, including "The Doctor" of the USS Voyager and the EMH on the USS Equinox: both vessels being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, did not, of course, have access to upgraded versions. (VOY novelization: Equinox).
A Mark I EMH also remained on the USS Enterprise-E into 2379, as Chief medical officer Doctor Beverly Crusher preferred it to later versions. Although Doctor Crusher had previously mentioned that she had sworn to never use the EMH. (TNG movie: First Contact, TNG - A Time to... novel: A Time to Sow)
The Soong Foundation discovered that more than 600 EMH Mark I models were put into servitude by Starfleet mining dilithium. Soong Foundation attorney Alyssa Cogley-Shaw sued for an injunction for Starfleet to reveal the status of all of its holographic programs. She claimed this was the slavery of sentient lifeforms, but Starfleet appealed the injunction claiming that the Mark I models are photonic tools. (STO novel: The Needs of the Many)
The EMH Mark II was programmed with new physical characteristics and to be a much more polite and friendly individual, although some felt it was too skittish. New starship classes such as the Prometheus-class were fitted with shipwide holographic projection systems so that EMHs could attend emergencies outside of sickbay. (VOY episode: "Message in a Bottle", DS9 short story: "So a Horse Walks into a Bar...")
The EMH Mark III came into general use during the height of the Dominion War, and included stringent security protocols. It also featured an improvement of its personality subroutine over the previous models. However, following the end of the war, these security measures came to be viewed as a hindrance to effective caregiving. (TNG novel: Losing the Peace)
The EMH Mark VI usage was unknown though it was still in operation on starships by 2409 as seen on the USS Khitomer. This version had pale, blueish skin and a personality similar to that of the Mark I. (ST video game: Star Trek Online)
The EMH Mark IX was online by 2380. This version looked like a young, female with strawberry-blonde hair, and could replicate herself as necessary. A Mark IX nicknamed "Nina" was active aboard the Enterprise in mid 2380. (TNG novel: Greater Than the Sum)