EHR Migration Best Practices

EHR Migration Best Practices

Over time, the complexity of healthcare management systems tends to grow. Holding onto them unchanged for years can harm their performance and the efficient use of medical records. Gartner’s findings show that 83% of data migration projects either fail or go over budget and schedules. 

This high failure rate makes migrating Electronic Health Records (EHR) data a significant challenge for any healthcare organization. It’s not just about moving all the data but also ensuring its accurate EHR migration, which is crucial.

Challenges Prompting the Requirement for EHR Migration

  • Rising Subscription Costs: Third-party EHR vendors’ increasing subscription fees can strain a healthcare organization’s budget, potentially diverting resources from essential areas like patient care and infrastructure development. Migrating to a more cost-effective EHR system, either in-house or through another vendor, optimizes resource allocation and improves financial stability.
  • Adherence to New Regulatory Standards: Outdated EHR solutions might not comply with the latest healthcare and data processing regulations. In such cases, migrating to a compliant EHR system becomes a practical solution.
  • Request for Advanced EHR Features: Organizations seeking advanced EHR functionality find EHR data migration more effective than updating legacy systems.
  • Healthcare Acquisition Facility: When two healthcare organizations merge, the acquiring organization usually sets operational standards. In these cases, your entity might need to undergo EHR data migration to synchronize with the larger provider and consolidate data into a unified system.

EHR Migration Approaches

New Tech Stack Migration

Organizations may choose to modernize their applications by upgrading their technology stack instead of moving to the cloud. For example, they might shift from an old Electronic Health Records system to a more modern, adaptable, and scalable system built on different technology foundations. This procedure could include transitioning databases, programming languages, or other fundamental technologies.

On-Premise EHR Migration to Cloud

Healthcare organizations increasingly prefer cloud-based EHR solutions due to their accessibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. They shift existing data from local servers to cloud-based EHR systems. Moving EHR to the cloud enhances data sharing and collaboration, reduces reliance on in-house IT infrastructure, and provides more flexibility. Some may adopt a hybrid approach, keeping certain data on-site for immediate access while using the cloud for other data. This approach integrates the security and control of an on-premises system with the advantages of a cloud solution.

From Standalone to All-in-One EHR

Organizations might transition from a standalone EHR system to a comprehensive healthcare software that includes EHR along with other functions like practice management, billing, telehealth, and more. This shift may also embrace a new set of technologies.

5 Stages of Successful EHR Migration to the Cloud

Stage 1. Assessment and Planning

  • Assess your current Electronic Health Record system thoroughly.
  • Involve stakeholders from different departments to grasp their specific requirements.
  • Collaborate with business leaders to prioritize roles and define migration objectives.

Stage 2. Data Preparation

  • Cleanse and refine your EHR data, eliminating errors and duplicates.
  • Map how your existing EHR data will fit into the new cloud-based system.
  • Select a data center near your business to ensure responsiveness.

Stage 3. Choose the Right Cloud Provider

  • Choose a cloud provider compliant with healthcare regulations like HIPAA.
  • Opt for a cloud provider offering scalable solutions for future growth.
  • Ensure the chosen provider offers good support and Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Stage 4. Migration Execution

  • Pilot Testing: Preliminary tests using patient records, medical practices, and treatment plans to identify potential challenges. Testing involves replicating data in the cloud and simulating various operations to ensure system performance, guiding necessary adjustments.
  • Role-Specific Functionality Migration: Migrate features based on role priorities and offer concurrent support and training for employees. Training sessions are conducted in-person, online, or through interactive modules to ensure staff comfort with the new system.
  • Data Migration: Extract and transform data from existing servers to a cloud-compatible format before loading it into the cloud environment. Automation tools help ensure consistent and accurate migration.
  • Validation: Rigorous post-migration validation verifies data integrity. Use a sampling method to compare a subset of records with the original data for accuracy. Automated scripts and manual reviews address flagged discrepancies.

Stage 5. Training and Ongoing Improvement

  • System Monitoring: Continuous performance monitoring allows for system enhancements. Cloud deployment enables the use of advanced tools like AI and text analytics. 
  • Feedback Loop: Set up a system for users to share challenges and suggestions, fostering ongoing improvement and ensuring long-term success.

A well-thought-out plan can streamline EHR transitions and cut down costs. 

Approaches like setting realistic expectations, safeguarding old data, and bringing in expert consultants temporarily can overcome major challenges in EHR migration.