With an active merger and acquisition healthcare market and many physicians have already adopted an Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Medical Record (EMR), the need for clinical data conversions is on the rise. Physicians are switching systems because not all healthcare providers have adopted a suitable EHR system, or the organization that acquired them is looking for standardization. Since 94% of all healthcare providers agree that implementing an EHR system improves access to valuable patient information, having a consistent flow of data through system transformations is key to quality clinical care. So what is a Clinical Data Conversion, and how can it help your practice?
Clinical Data Conversion
Clinical data conversion is the process of transferring data from one format into another. The most common type of clinical data conversion is from a priorly implemented EMR or EHR to the one that is replacing it.
Clinical data conversion can get very complicated, and they require knowledgable developers performing the litany of tasks needed. It also requires a significant amount of data mapping prior to migration. Many healthcare organizations struggle with the transition process as it is not often something done within the organization. Medical data is highly sensitive and could have a disastrous impact on a patient’s health if mapped incorrectly. Choosing the right partner, such as TempDev, to assist with your clinical data conversion is critical to successfully and efficiently running a conversion project.
How to Perform Clinical Data Conversion
Clinical data conversion involves several steps. The main steps include:
- Create a project plan for the entire data conversion process from start to finish
- Define the source data needing to be converted
- Build a data map from the source to the destination
- Extract the source data or work with the vendor to provide an extraction
- Transform source data so that it fits within the destination system
- Allow for user acceptance testing and feedback
- Deploy the conversion production
- Validate and evaluate the converted data
These steps are crucial because they help in identifying any risks related to the data conversion process. They also allow your organization to develop risk mitigation plans to enhance the success of the process.
The process typically takes 3-6 months, depending on the amount of data and the relationship with the former vendor. Remember to ensure that the data conversion process protects the integrity of the patient’s chart. This will help protect your patients’ health and evoke confidence in the new system.
Clinical Data Conversion Features
There are many features of clinical data conversion. The first one is that it is a multidisciplinary process. A clinical data conversion process involves different departments working together. You will want to include your clinical and IT teams, the prior and future EHR vendors, and consultants if your organization chooses that path. The project manager must keep everyone on the same page about what and how data will be converted to ensure a successful data conversion.
The process involves the transfer and conversion of clinical information from one format to another. This is often time-consuming as you will have to build data maps about how to transform the data. Clinical data conversions require specialized development resources with an ETL (extract, transform, load) skillset. Often times, clinical data conversions require that developers not only know the destination database but also learn the inner workings of the source database.
Clinical and development teams should work together to decide what:
- Makes clinical sense to be converted
- Can be converted that maintains data integrity
- Should be done if data can’t be converted in a reasonable fashion
- Communication should be sent to physicians and nurses about the data
The process of converting clinical data from one EHR into another system requires a lot of moving parts and exceptional communication. Partnering with the right professionals will help you make a smooth and seamless transition.
The primary purpose of clinical data conversion is to help your providers maintain consistent access to a patient’s chart throughout a transition. Additionally, clinical data conversions help carry out the following:
- Maintaining a centralized patient record
- Thoughtfully managing patient data
- Making storage and retrieval of patient data more efficient
- Enabling healthcare practitioners to share patient data seamlessly
- Fostering unvarying communication between the physician and patient
Benefits of a Clinical Data Conversion
Although many people are unaware of the clinical data conversion process, it presents many benefits. The primary one is helping healthcare practitioners deliver quality care to their patients. Maintaining a patient’s chart while an office goes through a system transformation must be made a priority. This makes it easy for physicians to serve patients, even when going through a new implementation.
Clinical data conversions also help with risk mitigation due to the loss of patient information. Medical errors will be much less likely to occur when information is readily available.
Clinical data conversions help reduce physician burnout when migrating to a new system. Anything that can be done to help ease the burden of a new EHR implementation on a physician must be considered. Instead of looking through a legacy system for information, physicians will have the patient information needed at their fingertips, in their new system.
The process of clinical data conversion when switching systems maintains the quality of data between systems. Having staff do chart abstraction while going through a new implementation is burdensome and inefficient. While a data conversion may seem like a lot of work upfront, it pays dividends in employee satisfaction.
Planning and Implementation
The best way to plan for a conversion is to begin by looking at what source data is available. This helps you organize everything from data extraction to data storage. Planning allows you to set goals, determine data testing parameters, and create a data conversion timeline.
Once you have planned the conversion process, the next step is implementation. Here you will need to do the following:
- Train your staff
- Outline the responsibilities of everyone involved in the conversion process
- Communicate to all stakeholders
- Determine the best approach to the process such as doing it as an in-house project or outsourcing
- Perform the data conversion and test the data to verify its accuracy
Begin Your Data Conversion Process with TempDev Today
Understanding a conversion is the first step to improving patient data management. But, implementing the process and getting it right can be quite challenging.
This is where TempDev comes in. TempDev will help you plan your project, perform the SQL development needed, and assist with best practices with EPM, EMR, or EHR data.