Virtually all healthcare providers will need to perform an EMR data migration. Whether you need to switch EHRs because of a merger or retire legacy applications and start using a cloud-based EHR, you will have to plan a data migration project.
Data migration in healthcare is not a simple task, and it’s a project that requires detailed planning, effective budgeting, team building, rigorous testing, and quality control.
When done correctly, a data migration retains the structure of patient medical records, with all the data needed to monitor drug interactions, do allergy checks, and ensure the efficient provision of patient care.
Unfortunately, errors in EMR data migration can prevent treatment, block access to patient data, and cause a violation of healthcare regulations.
To ensure that your next data migration is successful, here are some steps to take or factors to consider.
1. Understand the Data Source
One of the first tasks in a migration project is studying and understanding the source. Don’t assume that every field contains the exact type of data it is defined to have.
Providers need to profile all data for migration, identifying all the sources and applications using the data. Understanding the data may also require consultations with the vendors of the legacy systems.
Note that some of the EHRs are not designed in a way that makes it easy to extract data from them. The next task is to create a project plan once the data has been understood and all the migration challenges are identified.
2. Plan for Continuous Data Access During Migration
If migration proceeds without a plan for continuous data access, it can lead to severe workflow disruption and affect patient safety. The entire practice could halt if doctors can’t view patients’ medical records.
It is essential to budget for infrastructure and network upgrades to ensure unhindered data access during the migration process. If the data already resides in the cloud, these upgrades can be reversed after completing the project.
3. Allocate Sufficient Time for Migration
Some providers underestimate the time needed for successful data migration. They feel that they can use database wizards to import historical data into the new application.
In practice, studying the source database(s), extracting, transforming, loading, and testing can take several months.
If you want your physicians to be able to view decades of medical records on any patient at the click of a button, there’s a need to schedule the data migration months before a new EHR system goes live.
4. Work With a Consultant
It may be necessary to hire a migration consultant to ensure that your organization gets the migration right on the first attempt.
Your consultant will help you study all the legacy data sources, plan the migration project, help with team selection, and provide diligent support during testing.
With the help of your migration expert, all potential bottlenecks will be identified before they occur.
5. Plan for a Cloud-based Archive
Suppose your legacy applications contain information that is only accessed once in several years, or you have data you are keeping strictly for regulatory compliance. In that case, you may need to plan for an active data archive.
Instead of loading all the data into the new application, creating an active archive in the cloud may be more beneficial.
This data can still be accessed from the EHR, but storing it in a separate archive will improve the performance of the new application.
Contact MediQuant for a Free Consultation
To successfully conduct a data migration, you need the help of a reputable migration consultant. Call us at 844.286.8683 to schedule a free consultation. Visit our contact page to discuss your health data archiving and migration needs.