EHR Migration: Reasons, Challenges, and Best Practices

12 Dec 2023

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Healthcare companies are transitioning from outdated health records to EHR software that provides improved usability, agility, and interoperability with other healthcare systems. However, after implementing a new EHR system, healthcare facilities are tasked with transferring patient data to a different platform. There, they may face challenges leading to information corruption, loss, or disclosure.

These pitfalls can be easily avoided by proper organization of an EHR data migration process. We, at Cleveroad, are here to share our experience in healthcare software development and help you understand the necessary steps for healthcare organizations to successfully transfer their EHR data and optimize their new EHR software.

Why EHR Data Migration?

Data migration for EHR is the process of moving medical records from one EHR system to another. It is typically used when a healthcare provider changes EHR systems or upgrades an existing system. This process can be complex and time-consuming due to differences in file formats, information structures, and security protocols. However, it is essential for healthcare organizations to switch to a new EHR, as it ensures that all past patient information is transferred safely, securely, and accurately, allowing continuity of care while minimizing disruption.

Let’s investigate why the companies require EHR migration.

What you will benefit through data migration to new EHR

EHR data migration benefits for your healthcare business

Seamless data exchange and scalability

Healthcare facilities require to simplify info exchange among different systems and medical service providers. If the existing EHR system struggles to share data with other healthcare platforms (e.g., healthcare CRM, hospital management system, etc.), migrating to a more interoperable system can enhance collaboration and provide a more comprehensive view of a patient's health history.

Moreover, info migration to a well-designed EHR system is suitable if you plan to expand your medical facility's services. You can do that through SaaS app development: modern SaaS solutions have the ability to scale up or down easily without any additional effort required on your part.

More robust functionality

Newer EHR systems often come with enhanced features and improved functionality to streamline healthcare processes, improve efficiency, and provide better tools for healthcare professionals. Data migration for EHR with advanced capabilities can lead to better patient care and overall effectiveness of the services rendered.

As a consequence, the patients of your medical establishment will be deeply engaged in your services, obtaining interactive and flawless access to them. To reach that, you can apply to a skilled healthcare IT vendor and ask for mobile app development services to build a smartphone solution that can integrate with your EHR system.

Transfer from legacy systems to modern

If the current EHR system is outdated and no longer supported by the vendor, it may lack necessary updates, security patches, and compatibility with modern healthcare technologies. Migrating to a new system ensures access to the latest features, security measures, and compliance standards.

What is more, info transferring to a modern EHR system provides an opportunity to clean and standardize information. This can improve the overall quality and accuracy of patient information, reducing errors and enhancing the reliability of clinical data. Cleveroad can reliably help you with that through our legacy systems modernization services for your medical facility.

Regulatory compliance

Healthcare regulations and standards are continually evolving. If the current EHR system struggles to meet the latest regulatory requirements, migrating to a new system can help ensure that the organization stays in line with regulations, avoids penalties, and maintains high information security and privacy. In this case, EHR data migration services from a skilled healthcare software development provider will allow you get software compliant to major healthcare regulations of your country.

Powerful system updates

Healthcare organizations can upgrade or modify their EHR systems as they evolve and their organizational needs change. Transferring information to the new system guarantees the accuracy and completeness of patient records.

EHR data migration during system updates is a strategic approach that allows healthcare organizations to stay current with technological advancements, improve interoperability, enhance features, maintain data integrity, comply with regulations, and minimize disruptions to daily operations. It ultimately contributes to the delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care.

Know more on how to build an EHR/EMR system and benefit through our recent guide!

7 Steps to EHR Data Migration

Based on our experience creating healthcare software for medical establishments, we’ve gathered all the steps you should take to ensure secure healthcare data transfer.

Step 1. Planning

Planning an Electronic Health Record information migration is a complex task that requires careful consideration of budget, time, risks, and business requirements. Pass the following steps to properly plan the migration.

Allocate the budget

You should plan the budget for the entire info moving process, including software, hardware, personnel, and any unforeseen expenses. Consider costs associated with potential downtime, electronic healthcare records info validation, and personnel training.

Think out a realistic timeline

Care about a timeline creation for the entire healthcare data migration process. Break it down into phases, considering info Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL), as well as testing and validation. Establish milestones to track progress and ensure deadlines are met.

Point out the potential risks

Identify risks associated with migration, such as information loss, system downtime, or compatibility issues. Develop a risk mitigation plan for each identified dangers, including such points as a preventive measures and contingency plans.

Select healthcare data migration tools properly

In collaboration with healthcare IT vendor, select appropriate tools to migrate existing data that align with your business requirements from old EHR system. Ensure that your infrastructure can support the migration process from old system to the new without causing disruptions to daily operations.

Step 2. Searching for skilled IT vendor

EHR migration is a responsive task requiring the supervision of skilled healthcare IT specialists. That’s why you must choose an EHR partner capable of helping you transfer patient data safely.

Looking for EHR migration company, you should pay attention to the following:

Their experience in EHR info transferring. Check whether they have cases connected to the process of healthcare information transfer.

Regulatory compliance. EHR vendors must know how to build healthcare software to comply with healthcare regulations and standards like HIPAA, GDPR or PIPEDA so you can use the EHR solution without legal risks.

Security measures. Ensure that the IT vendor employs robust security measures, such as encryption protocols, access controls, and regular audits to safeguard patient’s EHR records.

Scalability. When considering future growth, choosing a tech provider that offers scalable solutions is advisable. As your operations grow, it is important for your EHR system to be able to handle the increased information in different data formats and demand without any issues.

Interoperability capabilities. A reliable EHR migration company should prioritize interoperability to facilitate the exchange of information across various telehealth platforms, promoting collaborative and integrated healthcare services. Ensure that your IT provider possesses competence in HL7 integration to establish interoperability and create interfaces for health solutions. .

Robust support after the migration. You may need support services after transferring the EHR data to new solution. In this case, please ensure that your selected healthcare IT provider offers Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or Software Architecture Documents (SAD) that are favorable for responsive and efficient support throughout the successful data migration process and beyond.

Checkout points before choosing a tech partner

Checkout points before choosing a tech partner

Step 3. Patients’ data analysis and cleaning

These are some of the points you can analyze or discuss with your EHR/EMR data migration company to proceed with the info migration successfully.

Think out your EHR record structure

Identify key fields such as patient demographics, medical history, medications, and lab results. Then, identify and remove duplicate records. This helps prevent redundancy in data storage and ensures each patient has a single, accurate representation in the new system.

Standardize formats and handle missing info

Ensure dates, codes, and other values adhere to a common standard to facilitate seamless integration. You should also address missing information by deciding whether to omit, replace, or interpolate values. Clearly document your approach to maintain records integrity.

Prioritize patient privacy and validate records

Anonymize or pseudonymised information as needed to comply with privacy regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR. Implement validation checks to ensure data accuracy. This involves running scripts or tools to identify anomalies or errors in the records while you switch on EHR.

Test migrations and involve stakeholders

Conduct test migrations with a subset of EHR records to identify and resolve potential issues. This step helps refine the migration process before applying it to the entire dataset. The analysis and cleaning process involve key stakeholders, including IT staff, healthcare providers, and administrators. Their insights can be valuable in ensuring a smooth migration.

While performing EHR records analysis and cleaning, you can also brainstorm to find out answers to the following questions given below:

  • What is the required amount of historical data for conversion?
  • What are your future plans in terms of service volume?
  • How much information do you need to organize and structure?
  • What EHR records can be safely discarded without negatively impacting your practice and patients?
  • Will scanned documents be images or searchable? Or are you going to paperless documentation?

While working with info analysis and answering questions, don’t forget that meticulous planning and attention to detail are critical for a successful EHR data migration.

Step 4. Developing an EHR migration strategy

A well-thought-out strategy of migrating data to a new EHR is key to successful info transfer. These are the main steps you can pass while creating a migration strategy.

Define objectives and assess current EHR's state

Clearly define the goals and objectives of the data migration. Understand why you are migrating, what improvements you expect, and how it aligns with overall organizational objectives.

Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your existing EHR system in deep cooperation with your EHR provider. Then, think out its architecture, data structure, and any limitations. Identify what info from your Electronic Healthcare Records System needs to be migrated.

Care about regulatory compliance

Ensure compliance with healthcare regulations, such as HIPAA, NHS, HITECH, etc. Understand EHR records privacy and security requirements and plan your migration strategy accordingly.

Create a data inventory and choose the migration method

Categorize data based on importance and relevance. Identify any redundant or obsolete information that can be excluded or archived.

When choosing the appropriate method for your data migration, you can view the options, including a big-bang approach (all at once) or a phased approach (incremental migration). Your IT vendor consider the impact on daily operations and chooses a method that minimizes disruption.

Identify risks and think out a testing plan

The vendor can help you identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies, including data fields loss, system downtime, or any unforeseen challenges.

Develop a comprehensive testing plan for your EHR migration together with your healthcare IT provider. This includes unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing. Test medical data migration processes thoroughly to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Flow documentation and improvements

Document the entire EHR implementation and migration process. This includes the strategy, methodologies used, challenges faced, and solutions implemented. This documentation is valuable for future reference and audits.

After migration, gather feedback and continuously assess the performance of the new EHR system. Implement improvements based on lessons learned during the migration process.

How to organize healthcare data storage? Our article will reveal you the details!

Step 5. System migration and testing

The following activities are necessary to duly perform your EHR record migration.

Choose tools for EHR/EMR data migration. Consider tools seamlessly integrating existing EHR systems and databases, ensuring a smooth transition. Robust data management through data mapping and transformation capabilities are essential, as they facilitate accurate and consistent information migration. Additionally, prioritize tools with comprehensive auditing features to monitor and ensure records integrity throughout migration.

You can utilize the following widely used tools to move data, including Redpoint Global, Health Catalyst, and MuleSoft, each offering distinct features to address diverse migration needs. Carefully evaluate these tools based on your organization's unique requirements to make an informed decision that aligns with your EHR data migration goals.

Establish a workflow. Create a meticulous workflow methodology for the migration and a strategy for ongoing data input and maintenance after the transfer of data. Please make sure that your data is accurate when migrating your EHR. This is an especially important step when you upload information extracted from paper files.

Transfer and test the data. Please choose the appropriate format for transferring your data. If the previous system has the capability to export data with the help of HL7 integration or Continuity of Care Record format, those formats may be used to transfer the data from one EHR system to another. Additionally, the information must be transferred from the previous database in field and record format.

Prior using EHR/EMR data migration services from your vendor, it is important to complete data mapping. This process allows for verifying accurate data input into the new system's fields. Transfer the info from the old database to the staging database using the right tools. Some records may not fit perfectly into the new database, but it still needs to be transferred, even if it's unstructured.

Moreover, it is important to conduct comprehensive testing on the data in the staging database to ensure that the applications effectively utilize it and allow end users to retrieve data from the former EHR system to a new one in a typical workflow.

Step 6. Finalizing your data migration

After adequate testing and satisfactory results confirmation, the tech team schedules a go-live date for the new database. It is important to inform all users of the EHR system about the potential disruption. Additionally, please connect the staging database to the live EHR interface to allow users to test it with the new data from multiple sources.

To streamline the transfer of data from one EHR to another, it is recommended to collaborate with an IT consultant. For safe and smooth EHR data conversion, it is advisable to seek assistance from a health data migration expert who can ensure minimal disruptions to your workflow.

Step 7. Dealing with post-migration support

It is a critical phase to ensure the smooth operation of the EHR system after migration of data elements. Begin by conducting thorough testing and validating the migrated info to identify and rectify any discrepancies or issues during the migration process.

Keep communicating with your vendor to promptly address user queries and troubleshoot any issues EHR data migration requires in the post-transferring period. Regularly be in touch with stakeholders, gather feedback, and conduct follow-up assessments to ensure ongoing satisfaction and optimize the system's performance. This proactive approach to post-migration support helps mitigate potential disruptions and fosters a positive user experience with the successful migration of EHR data.

Conduct your EHR data migration with us

Get the robust EHR system with successfully migrated data of your patients from our IT experts with 11+ years in healthcare domain

What Are the EHR/EMR Data Migration Best Practices to Utilize?

We thought out the list of the EHR data migration best practices you should think out implementing or talking about them with your healthcare IT provider.

Deep data analysis

It means a comprehensive examination of the underlying health data elements to extract valuable insights and ensure a successful EHR transition. Such an examination involves in-depth scrutiny of patient records, clinical histories, and healthcare workflows. Advanced analytics will help healthcare organizations identify patterns, anomalies, and trends within the data, facilitating informed decision-making during the process of EHR data migration.

Such an approach also aids in the detection of potential errors or inconsistencies, enabling corrective measures before the migration process. Organizations can enhance records quality, promote interoperability, and improve the overall efficiency of their EHR systems post-migration by incorporating data archiving practices and leveraging analytics.

Records security and compliance

Rigorous adherence to data security protocols, including robust encryption during transmission and storage, is essential to safeguard patient records from unauthorized access or data breaches.

Compliance with regulatory frameworks like HIPAA, PIPEDA, GDPR or other legal requirements that is actual for your country ensures that the process of transferring data aligns with legal standards, maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of patient data. Information anonymization and de-identification techniques may also be employed to further protect patient identities.

Moreover, the healthcare IT vendor will conduct regular audits and assessments to verify compliance, identify potential vulnerabilities, and proactively address any security risks throughout the EHR/EMR data migration process. You can facilitate the task and order this task to your tech partner helping you with patient info transferring.

EHR system developed by Cleveroad

EHR system developed and checked for security by Cleveroad

Information integrity support

Integrity support is one of the EMR data migration best practices, ensuring the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of patient information throughout the transition process. To uphold data integrity, robust validation mechanisms are employed to identify and rectify discrepancies or anomalies in the new EHR implementation. This involves comprehensive information mapping, transformation checks, and reconciliation procedures to guarantee seamless alignment with the target EHR system's scheme.

Regular audits and monitoring systems are implemented post-migration to detect any potential integrity issues promptly. Furthermore, continuous collaboration with end-users and stakeholders is integral, gathering feedback and addressing concerns to maintain a high level of information accuracy and instill confidence in the reliability of the electronic health records.

Staff training

Investing in staff training not only enhances user proficiency but also promotes a positive attitude towards the new EHR system, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the data migration process. It entails that healthcare professionals are equipped to navigate and utilize the new system effectively. Tailoring training sessions to different roles within the organization, such as clinicians, administrative staff, and IT personnel, helps address specific needs and ensures a smoother transition.

Assessment and monitoring

Assessment and monitoring is one of the essential approaches to EHR data migration. Continuous evaluation of migration processes, from planning through execution, is essential to identify potential challenges and ensure the achievement of project objectives. Rigorous assessment involves regular audits, validation checks, and performance evaluations to guarantee data accuracy, system functionality, and adherence to compliance standards.

Additionally, real-time monitoring of migration activities allows for prompt identification and resolution of issues, minimizing the risk of data loss or discrepancies and ensuring a smooth transition. This proactive approach enhances the overall quality of the migration and enables stakeholders to make informed decisions, optimizing the efficiency and reliability of the post-migration medical system. The healthcare IT vendor can help you with this by providing you with qualitative medical software and ensuring the EHR migration is passed securely.

Explore how our EHR/EMR software development services can assist you in the process of EHR data migration

Data backup and contingency planning

This practice of EHR data migration is essential to safeguard against unforeseen challenges. Establishing robust backup mechanisms ensures that a copy of the existing EHR records is securely stored before the migration process begins. Such a precautionary measure acts as a safety net, allowing for the restoration of data in the event of unexpected issues or failures during migration. Moreover, a comprehensive contingency plan should be in place to address potential disruptions, such as system downtimes or data discrepancies.

This plan includes clear protocols for identifying and resolving issues promptly, minimizing the impact on healthcare operations and ensuring the data stays secure for the continuity of patient care. Regularly testing backup restoration procedures and contingency plans helps to maintain their effectiveness and readiness for any contingencies that may arise during the EHR/EMR data migration process.

We’ve enlisted the main EHR data transferring practices, but looking through this list you should understand that their application depends on your software tech requirements. Feel free to contact our domain experts for assistance. Our specialists will analyze your IT environment and consult on best practices for proper EHR data transfer.

Challenges of Data Migration for EHR

Let’s discuss the common challenges of EHR data migration and their possible solutions.

Hazards to patients’ safety

When it comes to patient safety, there are concerns related to data transfer methods. Switching an outdated EHR to a new one can compromise patient safety and confidentiality, even with secure data systems. To ensure patient safety, clinicians need immediate access to dependable and credible historical data throughout the EHR.

Data transfer procedures can result in problems such as data distortions, usability issues, and difficulty in identifying data. These problems can jeopardize patient safety and make it harder for practitioners to follow care standards if they are unfamiliar with the new EHR. However, a reliable EHR/EMR data migration company can successfully deal with this problem.

Risks of inadequate planning

Developing a successful plan necessitates thoughtful deliberation and collaboration among all stakeholders during the process of transferring data. This may result in integrity problems in the future. Such kind of integrity issues can have significant consequences beyond patient safety in a hospital. When migrating information that includes elements beyond clinical data, such as billing and scheduling, there is a possibility of revenue issues, disruptions to business operations, and potential harm to reputation in the long term. All these factors combined could have a negative impact on provider trust, the patient-provider relationship, and patient satisfaction.

In this case, you can contact our healthcare software development team. The Cleveroad experts carefully plan the data migration process from your current EHR system to the new one, giving you the ability to monitor it, clarify the transferring aspects, and approve or make changes.

Cloud service underestimation

Cloud services provide significant flexibility, elasticity, and cost savings advantages, making them a valuable tool for transferring clinical data, where data may be seamlessly managed.

Implementing cloud computing in healthcare offers numerous benefits. The scalability of the cloud allows health organizations to effectively and accurately migrate data using all necessary technologies. For example, the Cleveroad team can offer you the benefit from cloud data migration through our DevOps services to allow you to take the full advantage of seamless cloud data migration.

So, during EHR data migration process, you can face various challenges. That’s why it is better to collaborate with a qualified healthcare IT vendor.

Use Case: Cleveroad Experience in EHR Data Migration Rendering

Cleveroad is software development provider with a hands-on expertise in healthcare. Moreover, we are experienced in data migration from outdated medical solutions to new ones.

Let us share with you our successful case of EHR data migration.

Our customer is an online consultation and remote care rehab facility located in the United States. They were using an SaaS EHR/EMR system with obsolete features and inflexibility.

Thus, they needed a healthcare IT provider to replace the SaaS platform with a custom clinic management system and ensure secure EHR data migration to a new system. Moreover, we needed to ensure the new system will be compliant with HIPAA regulations.

While working, our team created an effective and flexible EHR/EMR solution and accompanying mobile apps. We safely and completely transferred existing user data from the old scattered system to a new platform's database. The solution’s deployment was performed on AWS cloud hosting, the HIPAA compliant provider. We’ve also applied the AES-256 encryption algorithm (it meets HIPAA requirement) and other security and data privacy tools around access, use, and disclosure of PHI and e-PHI.

As a result, our customers receive a customized and resilient clinic management system that includes a regulatory-compliant EHR/EMR system with all the necessary patient data transferred to new secure storage. The solution effectively provides patients with therapeutic assistance and rehab services.

Clinic Management System built by Cleveroad

Clinic Management System built by Cleveroad

Having successful cases for EHR data migration, we can connect software engineers who already make it for our customers. also perform a smooth EHR data migration process for your medical software. Let’s collaborate together to ensure the safe and secure transferring of your sensitive patient data!

Migrate your patient’s EHR data with domain experts

Contact us today and our Healthcare subject matter experts will support and guide you on EHR data migration process

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the data migration process of the EHR?

Data migration process of the EHR is the procedure of moving medical records from one EHR system to another. It is typically used when a healthcare provider changes EHR systems or upgrades an existing one.

What is EMR data migration?

EMR data migration is the process of transferring medical records from one EMR system to another when a healthcare provider switches EMR systems or updates an existing one.

How do I transfer data from one EHR to another?

This operation should better be done with the help of a skilled healthcare solution development vendor. They will help you plan your migration activities, perform data analysis and cleaning before you start the migration flow. It’s essential to ensure with an experienced healthcare IT provider’s support during data transfer to succeed in possible tech difficulties connected to migration.

What is the difference between EHR and EMR data?

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) contain the same sort of patient data. However, EMR is destined to be used by the narrower circle of physicians than EHR.

Give me 5 EHR data migration steps to perform

Step 1. First off, choose tools for EHR/EMR data migration.

Step 2. Prioritize tools with comprehensive auditing features to monitor and ensure records integrity throughout migration.

Step 3. Evaluate these tools based on your organization's unique requirements to make an informed decision that aligns with your EHR data migration goals.

Step 4. Then, create a meticulous workflow methodology for the migration and a strategy for ongoing data input and maintenance after the transfer of data.

Step 5. Finally, choose the appropriate format for transferring your EHR information.

What are the types of EHR data migration activities I should stick to?

These are deep data analysis, information integrity support, staff training, assessment and monitoring as well as data backup and contingency. You can try the enlisted kinds of activities while transferring EHR infrastructure to a new one. However, it is better to discuss them with your tech partner before use.

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About author

Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics

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