EMR Conversions

Posted on February 22, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I got an email asking me about converting an EMR from one EMR vendor to another. No doubt as time progresses, we’re going to see more and more clinics having to make the switch as clinics continue to consolidate. Here’s my response to this person. Hopefully other people will find it informative.

Converting an EMR is an incredibly challenging affair. Especially when you’re trying to convert from an ambulatory EMR to a hospital EMR.

There’s so many factors I’m not really sure where to start. I guess the first question is did you negotiate in your contract with Practice Partner that 1. you own the data in your EMR and 2. they would provide the “database schema” of the EMR so you would know where and how the data is stored in the database?

If you don’t have these 2 things, then converting the data is going to be an extremely big challenge. Even with these things, you can expect some major challenges. One EMR vendor described the conversion process the best. He described it as an imperfect science where you’ll never know 100% for sure that you got ALL of the data out and done correctly. You can know you’re close, but it’s almost impossible to know you got everything out of the previous EMR. It’s basically a best guess and often requires an iterative process where you think you got most of it and then you realize that something else is missing and so you have to go back and see what you did wrong.

The future of EMR is for the EMR interoperability standards to improve to a point where you can essentially “export” all the data from your EMR in some sort of standard format which you can then import into a new EMR. Those standards will be used by patients when they switch doctors. They’ll also be used by patients that want to have their own “PHR.” They’ll also be used by specialists to interact with primary care doctors. However, these standards have a long way to go. So, until then, it’s going to be an imperfect science.

Anyone else have thoughts and suggestions for those looking to convert from one EMR to a new EMR?