Switching EHR Systems: How to Maintain Accurate Patient Records
When your organization selects a new EHR system, maintaining patient records must be a top priority. You need to work closely with your vendor to plan, test and implement an accurate data conversion process.
This will preserve the structure of the patient data and the information needed to check allergies, track drug interactions and improve the delivery of care. Since data conversion and migration consume a significant amount of time in any EHR conversion project, you must begin the process early to avoid undue delays.
Here are some of the important steps that lead to accurate data conversion.
1. Set Out the Data Elements
The data elements are the discrete information items such as first name, middle name, last name, gender, address, date of birth, allergies, etc. During conversion, these elements need to be added to the database in the new EHR. The ideal situation would be to take the data structure in the old EHR and import it into the new, but this is seldom possible.
No two EHRs are the same. That’s why you have to make some compromises. Convert the most important data items, especially those that are needed for regulatory compliance and efficient functioning of the organization. Then, you can summarize other historical data and store them in the new system as static documents.
2. Plan the Conversion Process
A well-planned conversion process will help you avoid errors that may not be discovered until the data conversion is completed. Ideally, the conversion process should be planned like this:
- Data format specification: Your vendor will provide a document containing the data that needs conversion, the format for the conversion file, and properties of each data element
- Specification review: Your organization will review the specification and ensure that all the required data elements are included
- Creation of test file: The vendor of the current or old system will create a data sample containing the format for the data to be extracted
- Data transfer to test system: The new vendor will import data and put it in a test system. This data must be reviewed carefully and changes requested if necessary
3. Validate Test Data
It’s vital to perform thorough data validation even if it takes a long time. Data must be checked for accuracy and consistency. This can be done for a representative sample of the data since there won’t be enough time to review thousands of records individually.
Check all demographic data because they’re essential for searching and finding patient records. Examine records of all patient types and report any errors or problems found in the test files to the vendor.
4. Migrate Patient Data
Once you’re fully satisfied with the test file, you can start the full data conversion. This process can take a few months to complete, depending on the volume of data to be converted. Don’t stop reviewing the data for errors. Some errors that didn’t show up doing the test phase may suddenly surface. Critical data elements like medications, blood type, allergies, and billing should be reviewed.
5. Eliminate Matching Records
Maintaining patient records is an arduous task when you have duplicate records for one patient. Duplicate records may appear in the new database if you don’t have a well-defined procedure for assigning unique patient identifiers. They can also occur when you have to merge records from two different EHR systems.
That’s why you need to define matching criteria on at least 5 data fields. If 4 out of 5 or 5 out of 5 fields match, then you can effectively mark them as duplicate records. Duplicate records must be manually examined, cleaned up, and reconciled before the new system goes live.
Get a Free Consultation on EHR Data Conversion
Call us now to schedule an appointment to discuss your EHR data conversion needs. HEF Solutions is your best option for smooth and accurate data migration that meets the needs of physicians and patients while complying with all regulatory requirements.
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