While buying an electronic health record (EHR) system for the first time is a veritable challenge, transitioning from one system to another is challenging as well.
There are a number of reasons an organization will switch to a new EHR system. For example, providers might need more functionality to manage workflow, or to bill directly from the system’s interface. They might also want to buy a certified system to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or even switch because of slow uptime and login speed.
One of the key barriers to switching EHR systems is data migration from the old to new system. A HITECH Answers article points out that collecting data from an old EHR system is a painstaking process, and providers should take steps to ensure valuable patient information isn’t lost. Additionally, transferring information can be an expensive process; often, a hospital or practice will outsource IT help for migration.
A second barrier is implementing tablets — such as iPads — into a health care setting. It’s possible that older EHR systems are intended to only work with onsite desktop computers and, therefore, more hardware is needed for tablet compliance. That’s when organizations must decide to either purchase more technology or a new system altogether. However, the transition to tablets also brings new obstacles like encryption and device privacy, too.
Another issue for providers transitioning to a new system is closing the book on the current vendor. EHR vendors likely do not have a sufficient departure plan, which means an organization likely will continue to make payments to the old vendor, if a new vendor is used. Given that providers need to access to older patient records, EHR vendors are likely to seek payments based on the “continuing use of licensed EHR software,” according to HITECH Answers.
Furthermore, the article offers tips on establishing an EHR contract that includes an “exit strategy” to switch to a new system and affords the time to do the following:
-Ensure sufficient time for selection and implementation;
-Ensure that all data is in a format that can be loaded easily into a new system;
-Continue use of data on the old EHR system.