Data Migration In an EHR
Purpose and Best Practices
Data migration in an EHR is the process of transferring data from an existing infrastructure to a new one. An EHR typically contains the following patient information:
- CT, MRI, and other radiographic images
- Demographics such as name, contact information, and insurance information
- Immunization history and dates
- Medical history
- Medical treatment plans
- Past and current medical diagnoses
- Past and current prescription medications
- Results of laboratory testing
Why data migration?
Healthcare providers choose to undertake medical data migration for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your organization has decided to upgrade its servers or storage devices.
Another possibility is that your ambulatory clinic needs a more robust system due to the increasing complexity of patient care.
For example, your EHR may not have certification to meet current user requirements. Your staff struggles to use it because they need greater support when recording value-based patient care models.
Whatever your reason for seeking EMR data migration services, it can be a complex and stressful process. You need a solution that can keep up with patient care and operational and financial needs.
At the same time, it is also important to minimize disruption to patients and staff. You understand that utilizing an EMR to improve transparency and communication is worth the effort.
While your healthcare organization is clear about the need for EHR data migration, it requires support during the transition process.
How will you migrate existing data to the new EHR?
Your clinic must undertake several steps in preparation for EHR data migration. The first is to go through a discovery process with the IT department to set data transition parameters. Some factors to consider here include:
- How much patient data is available for conversion?
- What percentage of data requires manual coding vs. scanning?
- What is the time estimate for the entire EHR data migration process?
Next, review current patient records to ensure an efficient data migration process. There is no need to transfer the accounts of deceased or inactive patients. You also want to check for duplicate accounts. Patients having one EHR under a maiden name and one under a married name is a common example.
The American Health Information Management System recommends aiming for a duplicate EHR rate of less than three percent. However, the current average is as high as 12 percent. Establishing criteria such as last encounter date to prioritize files can significantly improve efficiency. Once your healthcare organization has created a project scope and cleaned up patient files, it is time to select an EHR vendor.
What Are the Best Practices for a Successful Data Migration?
The company you choose to partner with for your health data migration project makes all the difference. First and foremost, your EHR vendor must operate within the mandates of patient privacy laws (HIPAA). Experience matters as well. Look for an EHR vendor who has been in business for many years and has helped migrate data from multiple operating systems.
You also want to hire a company that offers customizable workflow solutions. Be sure your EHR vendor supports all workflows in your current medical system and the ones you want to add. Billing, pharmacists, physicians, and scheduling are just four common examples. You also want to ensure adequate time for staff training on the new EHRs before releasing it live.
If your practice has not yet created an EHR implementation team, now is the ideal time to do so. The EHR implementation team should contain the following people at a minimum:
- Project manager to oversee the data transition and ensure it progresses according to the developed plan.
- At least one representative from each area of workflow within the organization.
- A team of trainers will assist staff with getting up to speed.
- IT professionals to help troubleshoot hardware and software problems.
The assembled EHR data migration team must be able to communicate professionally with both the new and old vendors. Cooperation between all parties is essential for the success of medical data migration. If your organization plans to change another system such as practice management, plan the migration processes one at a time. Introducing significant change all at once will only frustrate staff and impact patient satisfaction rates.
Your medical practice might consider decreasing the volume of patient appointments during the new EHR implementation process. Increasing staffing at the same time is also valuable advice. The combination of reduced patient load and more staff onsite provides the opportunity for a smoother data transition. Staff can ask questions of the trainers with little to no effect on current patient scheduling and treatment. Posting training schedules and having regular status meetings on the EHR transition help to improve overall efficiency as well.
The IT department, project lead, and department managers must have realistic expectations from the planning to implementation stages. Expect to hear a lot of complaints and expressed frustration as the staff learns to use the new EHR. This is normal and should subside in time. Keep in mind that physicians, pharmacists, and surgeons typically pride themselves on their skills and competence. It can feel humbling for them to repeatedly ask for help when learning how to use a new EHR. All staff needs reassurance that they are doing well and will achieve proficiency soon.
Once the new EHR system is in place, discourage staff from switching back and forth with the old EHR. Not only will this reduce their learning speed, but it can also cause them to make costly errors. Be sure to communicate daily with the new EHR vendor during the first few weeks after the system goes live. Expect that staff will have questions and run into issues not seen in training. Keeping communication open with the new EHR vendor, and the old one if necessary, brings faster resolution and minimal disruption.
Lastly, don’t forget to complete regular financial reconciliation of the new EHR system to measure its success across several parameters. Seeing workflow issues or technology problems impact organizational revenue is common at first. The benefit of regular checks of your EHR is that it allows you to promptly identify and correct concerns. This is especially important when issues arise shortly after implementation that takes staff by surprise.
Contact PrognoCIS to Discuss the EHR Needs of Your Medical Practice
PrognoCIS is pleased to offer meaningful use EHR software that is ICD-10 and Medicare Access CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) compliant. We invite you to contact our sales department by phone at 1-877-693-6748, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer medical billing and practice management software should the need arise.