You just like many others in the medical field probably have been avoiding the transition from in-house records to electronic medical records (EMR’s) in the cloud because the process seems so daunting. If you are reading this then you have already realized the importance and recognized how beneficial it is for you to begin your cloud migration as soon as possible. UC San Diego’s Medical center has recently switched to a cloud based EMR so ““we can invest more time and resources in patient care.”
Due to the fact that EMR’s directly impact your patients care, it is extremely important that all your employees understand the plan and are actively involved. Medical records impact in one way or another not only your patients but the physicians, nurses, and administrative staff in the office. Unsuccessfully completing your transition project from your in-house EMR to the cloud can be extremely frustrating and costly. On the other hand your clinic will greatly improve its efficiency, organization and overall quality of service once you successfully complete migrating your records to cloud EMR’s.
You already decided to transition to the cloud; now what?
You need to start with selecting a project manager to plan your project using these five principles as a guide:
- Patient information must be secure. Unlike paper based records your new EMR’s will need a lot more than just physical security and proper administrative practices. Technical security now comes into play to avoid things like data loss, viruses, internet intrusions and data corruption.
- Maintain privacy of patient information. Your new electronic records will have a superb increase in efficiently managing your patients information with the ability to search and easily manipulate information anywhere in the world. The project manager needs to closely evaluate the terms of ethical responsibility to maintain patient records along with the legal responsibilities that comes with it.
- Maintain integrity of the medical record content. Quality of care could severely suffer if the transition from to the cloud is not closely managed. Your project manager needs to prepare for at least some amount of time when the clinic will maintain both in-house records and cloud records. A defined process with a transfer date needs to be identified of when the cloud is the official medical record and your clinic will no longer use in-house charts or other EMR’s.
- Maintain integrity of the clinical workflow supported by the medical record. Many processes being handled by the clinic are directly or indirectly supported by medical records. Your project manager needs to assess how the new cloud EMR’s could alter these processes and make appropriate adjustments to some workflow items. Email is the most common implementation to workflow items when using cloud EMR’s.
- Maintain continuity and quality of care through the transition period. The project manager must create a plan that ensures patient care does not suffer in terms of safety or quality of care during the transition period
Your project manager must be fully aware that transitioning to cloud EMR’s represents a significant change to all processes in the medical clinic. All changes must be considered carefully so that patient safety and quality of care does not decrease throughout the migration period. The integrity of the patient’s medical record must be maintained as well as patient privacy and information security.
Ready to get started with the transition?
It is time to choose the right vendor. Now that your practice has a better understanding of workflow you should be able to easily identify the functionality you need from the new EMR. The goal should be achieving better practice and productivity. Here is a list of EMR vendors from TechnologyAdvice.com
Implementation and Data Migration. After you haven chosen the best EMR option for your clinic it is time to get started with the migration. Your team will now start setting up and configuring the new EMR system along with mapping the EMR data from the old system. You want to extract data on three different occasions to make sure you do some testing and validation before the actual migration.
Steps involved with data migration:
- Training – The new vendor will often times provide training as part of their package.
- Setup – Before going live make sure practice accounts are created for the staff to use. Prepare issue logs so everyone can document their findings or questions about the EMR system.
- Data Mapping – Values of your old EMR system will match the new cloud EMR system for easy migration. Make sure your team has the opportunity to compare the data from the old system with the new system side by side. This will help ensure integrity of the records and for the vendor to make appropriate adjustments to their mappings.
- 1st Extraction – This gives you a better understanding of the feasibility of an actual EMR migration. This basically just tests to see if data is actually migrating over. It is recommended to contact your old EMR vendor to have them provide the first extraction if possible.
- 2nd Extraction – Now that you know what you get with the data mapping and migration you need to validate what is being sent. Your project manager needs to closely engage with clinical and administrative staff throughout these stages. Compare about 20 records for accuracy of the EMR, including documents, reminders, charts etc. It is preferrable for your staff to review the records using 2 monitors with the old EMR on one screen and the new EMR on the other. Log any and all discrepancies. Now you is the time to correct and resolve and missing data items.
- Final Extraction – At this point all EMR data should have been tested and validated extensively. Everyone in the practice now understands the data and any necessary workarounds needed for missing data. It’s best to record patient data on Microsoft word during the final extraction. This way you can manually enter missing data from records since you still have a copy. Keep a log of total number of records so you know that you have all of the patients records.
An EMR migration is a lengthy procedure that involves multiple processes, challenges and time commitments from your practice. Outsource companies have medical professionals, data entry specialists along with information technology experts to assist you with this massive project. They can provide support in the following areas during your migration:
- Project Management
- Migration Planning
- Workflow Analysis and Requirements
- Data Migration
- Migration Rollout
- Platform Support