The number of hospitals who are in the process of switching EHR systems has grown substantially over the past five years. A 2014 report by KLAS research found that nearly 50% of large hospitals had replaced, or had plans to replace, their EHR system by the end of 2016. It’s an alarming statistic that emphasizes just how many organizations are dissatisfied with their current EHR solution. In a report titled “Healthcare Trends from the C-suite” from Premier, over 40% of respondents in a survey of 127 healthcare leaders were either dissatisfied with or indifferent about their current EHR systems.
From performance issues to poorly designed user interfaces to outdated technology, there are a number of reasons why hospitals eventually become fed up with their current EHR system and look for a new solution. Moreover, physicians are becoming increasingly unhappy with the fact that they now spend far more time inputting data into EHRs than they do with their patients. Physicians now spend nearly 50% of their time on their EHR and doing desk work, and only 27% of their time interacting face to face with patients, according to research from Annals of Internal Medicine.
To be fair, discontent is not the only reason why hospitals are switching EHR systems. Sometimes hospitals and physician practices are forced to switch from one EHR system to another when they are acquired by, or merge with, another healthcare organization. It’s about consolidation.
Whatever the reason for switching EHR systems, there are some important considerations to bear in mind when making the change. To ensure a successful EHR migration, take the time to think about, and answer, the following three questions.
How will you choose a new EHR solution?
The first big decision that your organization has to make in the EHR migration process is selecting a new EHR system. And while you might be thrilled that you are finally getting rid of your old EHR, the grass isn’t always greener on other side. Due diligence and planning are required if you don’t want run into the same issues that you had with your previous EHR.
You need to think about your organization’s goals and find a solution that will help you achieve them. Is your primary goal meaningful use attestation? Is it to eliminate all paperwork? Improve quality of care? Enable your caregivers to access patient information more quickly? A combination of these things? Make a list of your primary and second objectives and incorporate them into your decision making process.
It is also important that you pick an EHR that will meet your future needs as well. You don’t want to be switching EHRs again in a few years because your organization’s needs have evolved beyond what your expensive new EHR is capable of. Pick a vendor who has a proven track record of keeping up with the evolving needs of healthcare organizations, and the ever-changing standards of the industry.
In addition to thinking about your organizational goals, you also need to ask for input from your end users when switching EHR systems. Not asking for opinions from the people who will actually be using the EHR on a daily basis is a critical mistake that many organizations make. If the majority of your physicians, nurses, and administrative staff are unhappy with the chosen EHR, they will be reluctant to use it. If this happens, you now have several major problems on your hands: unhappy workers, inefficient staff, and a very costly EHR that is hardly being used. Thus, involving your end users in the decision making process early, and often, is an essential part of a successful EHR migration strategy. There is an added bonus of doing this as well – your staff will be able to hit the ground running when the new EHR goes live because they are already familiar with the system.
How are you going to migrate data when switching EHR systems?
After you have found your ideal EHR solution, the next step is to map out a data migration plan. Migrating all of the data that is stored in your current EHR to your new EHR system is a huge undertaking. This means that you will need to put just as much time and thought into how you are going to migrate your data as you did with selecting a new EHR. When not handled properly, data migration can be a nightmare. It can disrupt your business operations and delay the go-live date of your new EHR system by months. Most hospitals end up needing to run their data through both their old system and their new system for the duration of the migration, which can take up to two years.
So what can you do to ensure a smooth data migration process when switching EHR systems?
Your best bet is to partner with an integration company who has experience migrating data between the plethora of EHR systems on the market. Why not get your current EHR vendor to do the job? Because they will charge you a substantial fee to extract the data out of their EHR and then you’ll have to pay again to get that data put into your new EHR. You’ll end up paying an arm and a leg because your old EHR vendor knows that you need this data and because they want to squeeze as much money out of your organization as they can before they lose your business (to a competitor nonetheless).
Working with an experienced integration partner will ensure that the transferring of your data will be done quickly, professionally, and at a reasonable cost. Here are a few things to consider when searching for an integration partner:
- Do they have experience integrating a variety of disparate systems?
- Can they both maintain your historical patient records and integrate data from your medical devices, billing systems, LIS, PACS, RIS, and more?
- Will they be able to migrate your data in stages to minimize the amount of disruption to your business?
Should you switch integration engines at the same time?
Switching EHR systems is a good time to review your current integration solution and ask yourself questions like: is your integration engine capable of meeting your current and future needs? Can your integration partner connect all of your medical devices and systems to your EHR? Are they able to solve your patient matching issues? You want to work with an integration partner who can offer a complete suite of solutions and work with you to accomplish every integration goal your organization has.
If your organization is going to change integration partners, now is the time to do it. Not only will some integration companies handle the entire data migration process for you, but they will also help you pick a new EHR solution and set up all of your interfaces. This will make the EHR migration entire process, which can often be complicated and stressful, simple and stress-free for your everyone at your organization.
To learn more about iNTERFACEWARE’s EHR migration services, contact us today or check out any of the free resources below: