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Thursday, July 2, 2015 9:22 AM

How to approach an EHR migration

Written by Joe Sainz, Practice Director, Professional Services, Iatric Systems

How to approach an EHR migration image

Among all of the hot topics in the healthcare IT industry (EHR Interoperability, Meaningful Use, Population Health etc), one of the clear leaders that people are focusing on is EHR Migration. We’ve reached a level of maturity where the majority of hospitals are exchanging information electronically (thanks Meaningful Use!), and now hospitals and healthcare systems are taking a good look to see if the systems they have put in place are still meeting their needs and expectations.

A recent study — 2015 EHR Software BuyerView by Software Advice, showed some interesting results. 

  • The number of buyers replacing existing EHR software has increased 59% since 2014
  • Frustration with a system is cited as one of the top reasons for switching (functionality, lack of ease-of-use etc) 

They go on to say that frustration with a system can start as early as day one, sometimes starting with implementation. 

I talk with a lot of hospitals that are going through either the evaluation process, or who have already decided to switch EHRs for one reason or another. Perhaps you find yourself in this situation. There are some key decision criteria to consider before you can even worry about the implementation of a new system. 

Here are a few of the top questions to consider: 

  • How you would handle transferring the data from your legacy system?
  • What is required to maintain the legacy system and for how long?
  • What resources will be required to manage the migration?
  • What impact is the new system going to have on your workflow? 

After you’ve answered these questions, it is important to make sure that you have a full strategy in place, otherwise you add additional risk and stress to the process. 

I have worked with a lot of hospitals that decided that they just can’t do it alone because they have so many other competing priorities that they have to continue to focus on. They find it is easier to outsource the management of the EHR migration. Having someone else manage the implementation takes away the worry of using internal resources that will be extremely busy building and working on the new system. Running the day to day IT business, keeping up with regulatory changes, and supporting new initiatives throughout the organization leaves no time for your staff to manage the migration project. 

If you are considering a migration, no matter how you decide to manage it, there are some key things that you should include in your strategy plan. Here are a few: 

  • Prepare the Organization for Change
  • Set Implementation and Strategic Goals
  • Resource Planning
  • Project Charter and Governance Structure
  • Managing the Risk
  • Communication and Marketing
  • Workflow Redesign
  • Training
  • The Importance of Testing
  • Integration and Reporting Requirements
  • Go-Live Planning
  • Post Go-Live Reviews 

I recently did a presentation on these topics at the International MUSE conference. I talked with the attendees about the fact that many of these project components aren’t new, and they’re not rocket science! However, making sure you include them in your planning, leave plenty of time for working on each one, and have the right person leading the effort are keys to success!

I recorded a live encore presentation on this topic, “Successfully Navigate a System Migration”, and have made it available as an on-demand webcast.