Helpful Data Migration Tips When Replacing Your EHR

Most EHR systems have fallen short of physician expectations over the years. System functionality, cost, and poor customer service have all contributed to a growing number of practices switching or replacing their EHR software. When practices are considering switching to a new EHR, data migration is a common question. Here I'll cover some helpful data migration tips to help your practice during the transition to a new EHR.

There has been a significant increase in the number of physicians and practices who are considering replacing their EHR software over the year. In a survey of nearly 1,000 physicians administered by MPI Group for Medical Economics magazine, 67 percent of physicians cited system functionality as a top reason for wanting to switch EHRs.

But system functionality isn't the only reason physicians are considering switching to a new EHR.

Increased Costs, Decreased Satisfaction

A Jackson Healthcare report from earlier this year notes that "61% of physicians reported their EHR's overhead costs have increased due to Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements." In addition to higher costs, there has also been a lack of care coordination with EHRs.

Many practices implemented an EHR with hopes that care delivery and care coordination would essentially improve. However, 69% of physicians surveyed say that care coordination has not been improved upon implementing an EHR. Specialists and subspecialists among those that seem to be most dissatisfied with EHR care coordination, as 72% say that coordination with hospitals has not improved.

If your existing EHR isn't performing the way your practice needs it to, it could be crippling to your overall operations. Replacing your EHR system with one that can manage clinical care, patient engagement, care coordination, and the revenue cycle management of your practice easily and efficiently, can help your practice comply with changing regulations and improve revenue cycle and patient outcomes.

Tips for a Successful Data Migration

While replacing your EHR is a major step forward to increasing operational efficiency, it can be much more complicated than installing an EHR system for the first time.

The process of data migration must be done carefully and strategically to avoid losing patient data, money, and time. Here are a few tips for successfully migrating your data from one EHR to another.

1) Research and Planning

Before choosing a new EHR, a large amount of research must be performed to ensure you're purchasing a system that will do what you need it to, and that is flexible enough to meet the changing needs of your practice. The last thing you want to do is switch to another EHR, find out it's a bad fit, and have to turn around just to do it all over again.

In addition, you'll need to carefully plan and communicate the details of the data migration to all staff members. This begins with fully understanding how the data migration will work and the requirements it will demand of your office staff. 

Careful planning and research will help you avoid a loss of productivity during the data migration and ensure the process runs smoothly from beginning to end.

2) Contract Details

The more information of the transition outlined in an EHR replacement contract, the better.

Will you only be able to pull patient demographics or can you also migrate financial data to your new EHR? It's important to understand and agree upon the amount of data that can be moved to the new EHR, and to verify that it can be done within the desired time frame.

Data migration from one EHR to another is often based on complexity and the amount of time it takes to transfer the data.

Getting these details lined out in the contract will avoid you from incurring surprise costs after the data migration has occurred.

3) Expert Assistance

When choosing a new EHR system, it's important that the provider offers expert assistance for the data migration and transition. Moving patient data must be done carefully, so as not to lose any patient data during the migration.

Having help from experts during the transition will also speed up the process, and prevent the majority of potential issues from occurring. To assure that you are in good hands with your data migration, ask to speak with a reference.

Talk with another practice that recently experienced a data migration with your new EHR vendor. Even better would be finding a practice that also switched from the same EHR.

4) Long-Term Support

During contract negotiations with a new EHR provider, practices should ensure that long-term support is included – long enough to cover the length of the entire data migration and transition. Otherwise, you may be left to complete the migration without expert support, which could be disastrous.

In addition to including support for the current data migration project, contracts should also include details on how a data migration would work down the road (should this be necessary). 

5) Communication and Cooperation

Clear and frequent communication with both your new and old EHR is crucial to a successful transition. If you don't have a good relationship with your old EHR, it could result in problems during the data migration.

Cooperation is required of everyone involved in order to make it go as smoothly as possible.

EHR replacement projects can be successful if you take the right steps to prevent the loss of data and/or frequent interruptions to operational workflow. It is a huge undertaking, requiring thorough preparation and a significant investment of time, money and effort to succeed.

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