Thinking of Replacing your EHR? Keep Your Data Migration Plan in Place

Replacing EHR is the growing trend these days. The number of healthcare organizations putting their EHR replacement plans in action is on the increasing scale. While the chief reason behind these replacements is increasing dissatisfaction with the initial EHR, other reasons include integration concerns, inability to upgrade as per improving technology, non-compliance with changing government norms, etc. All in all, healthcare institutions are always in search of an effective EHR system that helps them manage current as well as future needs of their facility as well as patients.

Data Migration

The need for a holistic EHR, which takes care of needs of clinician’s as well as patients, drives providers to go for EHR replacement. However, migrating from one EHR to another needs careful planning and preparation. The biggest challenge lies is securing the patient’s historical data integrated into the new EHR. This becomes a herculean task where ineffective legacy systems pose problems in generating useful patient historical information.

Data Migration-Is Your Patient Data Intact?

An effective data migration strategy ensures easy access to data from old or initial EHR. There are two crucial factors that decide the efficacy of your data migration plan.

Productivity: Converting data electronically, instead of rebuilding patient history, can be very helpful in improving the overall productivity of the staff in the facility. Quick access to existing patient data determines the efficiency of the staff. All this leads to improvement in patient satisfaction levels.

Performance of new EHR: Ability to access the old data in the new system enhances quality of care and financial performance. Ensuring moderation in the volume of old data helps a practice meet regulatory compliance as well as need for research.

Three Approaches to Data Migration – What one would you go for?

Migrating data from one EHR to another involves cost as well as complexity. Assessing the data needs as well as deciding a budget for data migration is a prerequisite to easy migration.

The First Approach: One time data transfer:

The most basic approach would be to transfer data from previous three years. This approach requires the joint involvement of practice managers, HIM professionals and physicians so that the clinician can decide the priorities of different documents. Patient data beyond three years can be stored offline at a lower level of specialty-driven indexing in an easily accessible repository. Prior to adopting this approach, it is important to estimate costs involved. However, the success of this approach hugely relies on the technological support for meaningful transfer of data.

The Second Approach: System-to-system Interface:

This approach involves placing a history icon on the desktop of the user to enable access to old data on clicking the icon. The main drawback of this approach is it enforces the user to pay for the support and maintenance of old EHR as well. Multiple system drastically affect the staff productivity.

The Tertiary Approach: Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA)

This is the most cost-effective approach used by clinicians to access to old EHR data. With the VNA approach, recent patient records are transmitted to the new EHR, whilst the older patient data is saved in an online vendor neutral archive. While VNA promises affordability, it also ensures easy retrieval of data. This translates to effective use of staff time and available resources.

Making a practice truly paperless, this approach meets long-term data retention requirements without having the need to maintain legacy EHRs. VNA is a perfect solution to bring forward and store data electronically for future acquisitions.

Ensuring Successful and Meaningful Migration:

No matter which approach you adopt to put your data migration plans in place, data migration is the most essential factor that determines the success of EHR replacement. Streamlining the conversion process, practices should envisage the data requirements and arrive at an approach that ensures easy accessibility at an affordable cost. Practices that ensure full migration definitely get rewarded tremendously in the form of effective future delivery of care.

Some Pointers to Successful EHR migration:

Prepare well in advance: Conversion to new EHR is a daunting task. It needs time investment along with preparations. Beginning your efforts prior to six months of estimated date of new system activation, can ensure successful migration.

Team work: To ensure consideration of meaningful data and representation of multidisciplinary interests, it is important to include all stakeholders.

Estimate data requirements: Converting all the data from the new EHR can be cumbersome, costly, and may hamper easy accessibility. The practice must decide in advance where the non-convertible data has to be stored.

Hire a data analyst: A data analyst, whether internal or external, can help you create a team and ensure that all data transfer requirements are met, and assume responsibility for the entire data migration project.

Simply put, ensuring successful EHR migration largely depends on the way the data migration project has been managed. While critical patient data can save the life of a patient, there are many causes that might lead to data loss. Using an effective data migration strategy can ensure easy access to patient data, and efficient use of the new EHR.

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