As of 2021, over 96% of non-federal acute care hospitals and other health centers have adopted an Electronic Health Records software system (EHR).
However, recent surveys have revealed worrisome levels of dissatisfaction with EHR systems. As a result, many healthcare facilities are changing EHR systems to newer and better systems on the market.
It’s no secret that the transition to newer and better EHR systems to support the ever-changing patient and hospital needs is inevitable. However, healthcare isn’t like any other business where the transition from one Electronic Health Record to another takes place overnight.
This article provides you with the ultimate step-by-step guide for a transition from one EHR to another.
Why Would Hospitals Consider Moving from One EHR to Another
Old EHR systems can be considered legacy systems in software engineering, so the transition to new infrastructure is always going to happen. An American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) survey provides the following reasons why hospitals consider moving from one EHR to another:
- 45% of hospitals sought to achieve more meaningful use from their EHRs.
- 20% of these health organizations consider transitions to new EHR in search of more stable vendors.
- 35% of the respondents consider a transition in order to save money.
The Benefits of EHR Hospital Transition
EHR to EHR hospital transition is difficult, expensive, and resource-consuming, but the operational and financial gains are worth it. 59% of the health institutions responding to the AAFP survey strongly agreed that their new EHR systems have new functionalities and are more useful.
Other important benefits that come with the transition to a new EHR include:
- New EHR systems provide better support and training through their vendors.
- More recent EHR systems are easier to use and are much quicker, and more efficient.
- New EHRs come with fewer technical problems and lesser cost of operation.
- Maintaining, updating, and adding new features to recent EHRs is cheaper and easier because they’re built with recent, more advanced technology.
New Opportunities with New EHRs
Integration with other applications
There are multiple applications on mobile and PC that can add limitless functionality to EHR systems. From efficient payment portals to patient engagement interfaces, the integration opportunities are endless. Most of these EHR-integrated applications are built on newer technology to work with newer infrastructure.
Opportunities with mobile medicine
Mobile devices are shaping health in multiple ways. It’s impossible to ignore a technology that virtually every patient uses on a daily basis. Updated EHR systems will allow your organization to integrate and offer mobile medicine services to patients through an app-enabled patient portal.
Access to cutting-edge technology
Artificial Intelligence, expert systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud-based technology are some of the leading technologies healthcare facilities can add to their existing EHR systems. Such technologies make it easier to process and store data and minimize errors that could arise from less advanced systems.
Another opportunity with new EHRs is the possibility of integrating legacy systems, which transport data from on-premises legacy systems (an older EHR) to advancing new systems such as the cloud.
EHR to EHR Transitions: Step by Step Migration
Choosing EHR systems will have a long impact on your hospital organization. To make the most of your new EHR system, a smooth migration process is necessary to cut down the EHR switch cost and eliminate productivity issues during the switch.
1. Choose your new EHR system and EHR vendor wisely
Your EHR provider is not only responsible for providing you with an EHR system customized to your precise need, but they’re also responsible for a smooth transition to a new system. However, it’s your responsibility as the healthcare organization to find the right vendor/provider to handle the transition.
You should choose an EHR vendor or provider who:
- Has experience and expertise dealing with antiquated (legacy) systems, because chances are, your current EHR will become outdated with time. Few developers are capable of working efficiently with legacy code, this is one of the many disadvantages of legacy systems, including old EHRs.
- Offers a well-thought-out EHR to EHR transition plan. Some vendors make these transitions much easier by putting a streamlined transition process in place and offering the necessary expertise in the healthcare industry.
- Guarantees on-time support and maintenance even after the migration process.
2. Learn about the data transfer process
Data transfer is at the heart of the transition. It is the biggest challenge you may face when transitioning from one EHR software system to another. As such, it is important to learn all you can about data migration from one EHR to another to understand your role in the process.
Start by reading the technical documentation and speak to your vendor. Find out where you come in and what you can do to ease the process. For instance, you may identify what data needs to be transferred or archived, and match data records or workflows in the current EHR to those in the incoming system.
The more you know about how this data transfer works, the better you’ll collaborate with your vendor in the healthcare data migration process.
3. Analyze your current EHR and choose what data to migrate
Not all recorded data in your current EHR will come with you. Workflows change, processes evolve, and so, not all data records in the current system are relevant for the future EHR system.
Set up a team of clinicians, administrators, and managers to analyze the existing paper records and select what needs to be migrated. At this point, don’t forget to define the new workflows for your organization after the EHR to EHR switch – the old workflows might not be best suited for the incoming EHR, especially if it’s a cloud solution.
4. Help your vendor execute the migration
The vendor needs your assistance and supervision with the data transfer. You may need to hire more IT personnel to write migration code, provide bug fixes and patches, run tests, and deal with other technical activity.
The input from expert EHR consultants is also essential for smooth migration,
and data abstraction as these professionals will provide insights into how old/current records will be recorded and operated upon in the new system. How current operations/processes in the existing EHR should be implemented in the new EHR without breaking or changing the operations in your institution.
5. Plan for training in advance
A new system brings in a new interface, new functionality, new processes, new constraints, new limitations, and new opportunities. As such, your hospital staff (from clinical staff to IT personnel) must undergo training on how to make the most of the new EHR system.
If new workflows and processes were developed during migration, these must be taught to hospital staff interacting with the EHR every day. Plan the training sessions beforehand and implement the training before the transition is complete to avoid a drop in the productivity of your staff.
6. Test your new system before going live
Training is part of the migration process because after developer tests are complete, it’s up to you and your staff to evaluate the newly implemented EHR system. Before you go fully live with your system, perform as many tests as you can to find bugs and challenges with the new system’s utility. Get to know your new system inside out at the very least.
How to test a legacy codebase without breaking anything? Learn here. Testing Legacy Codebase: What is, Common Problems and Best Practices
In case of any troubles, inform your IT department and notify your vendor as soon as you can.
Common Challenges When Migrating from One EHR to Another
1. Data transfer
There’s no challenge bigger than data transfer and configuration. It is not as easy as copy-paste. Certain migration algorithms need to be implemented to move the records from the current EHR to the incoming EHR.
2. High costs of switching
The costs of hiring new IT personnel and expert consultants (if you go this way) to oversee the data transfer process are high. Purchasing the new, advanced EHR you’re implementing is also not cheap.
3. Maintain compliance
Because patient information and other types of health records are hyper-sensitive, even the transition process must be implemented in compliance with government health regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR. Failure to do so may bring in legal issues from the governing federal or state body.
4. Migration can take time and affect productivity
The EHR transition planning, data transfer, training, and testing processes are also lengthy, and this plays on the overall length of the entire transition process. Such a lengthy transition process coupled with a possible suspension of other digital operations may affect the overall productivity, and not in a good way.
However, this might not be a cause for concern as the time taken throughout the process entirely depends on the complexity of the old software, new processes, and the changes your healthcare unit seeks to introduce in the new system. So, the transition process might be either difficult or simple.
Tips and Recommendations for an Efficient Transition from One EHR to Another
Patient information is sensitive. Ensure that your transition process follows all the regulatory compliance standards for healthcare. Your vendor/provider and your new Hospital Charting systems (EHR) must also be compliant with these regulations.
Sufficient training = Smooth transition
Plan and implement staff training on the operation of the new EHR system even before the switch is complete. Trained staff members are able to adapt to the new system without affecting their productivity.
Timely and effective communication between your organization, your personnel, the hired consultants, and your vendor/provider will always be essential for a smooth migration process.
Get your timing right
A hospital is always a busy place, but some periods are considered “slow”, compared to others. These “slow” periods with low activity are the perfect times to implement a transition project to reduce a loss in productivity and quality of healthcare provision. Take into account the time and resources you need to spend for a smooth and complete migration. That way, you’ll avoid the unpleasant surprise of unmet needs and lost budgets.
Consider ModLogix as Your Legacy Software Modernization Partner
ModLogix is a software modernization company with exceptional talent that allows us to handle the most complex legacy software modernization projects across multiple industries. We specialize in legacy code modernization and efficient software migration, such as our popular AngularJS to Angular migration.
We’re the ideal partner for your EHR migration project because of our solid understanding of what the healthcare industry needs. With 10+ projects completed and 5 years average length of client engagement as a part of Langate Corp, you can rest assured that your migration project is in the right hands.
Schedule a free consultation so that we can help you with transitioning EHR systems today.
A transition to an improved EHR system can increase the productivity and output of your hospital personnel and boost efficiency and the quality of healthcare you provide. To ensure a smooth transition from one EHR to another, follow the steps provided in this guide. The steps are based on our 3+ years of experience developing and modernizing applications for healthcare, and extensive research on how other healthcare organizations conduct smooth transitions to new EHR systems.