Transition to a new EMR: steps before going live similar to the initial transition from paper

It is now less than two weeks until we go live with a new EMR system. Most of my colleagues are still deciding whether to change from paper to electronic records, but that is ancient history for me. Are there any steps in the days leading up to the switchover that might help those who are making the plunge for the first time? 

Push Me Pull You

I have previously written about what prompted our decision to migrate to a different vendor as well as usability issues in selecting the right EMR. There is really nothing wrong with our current system but there are a few things that could be handled with fewer keystrokes. Read the prior article about usability in EMRs.

The first step with a new EMR is to know what you want to achieve by going “paperless.” This is true whether it is your first or your third time. The limitation though when moving from paper to electronic is that you may not yet know what an EMR is capable of doing so how can you know what your goals are? With enough homework that includes speaking with colleagues, you can learn what an EMR can do for you. 

In my case, we have data in our current EMR that we need to bring forward into out new EMR. This is similar to how you need to figure out a way to get your information from a paper chart into an electronic record. We are fortunate that when we purchased our prior EMR, the contract includes our rights to get our patients’ data should we decide to leave. We need to extract all past visits (at least as static images if not the raw data) all appointments and recall lists, billings, and patient demographics. Again, just like the transition from paper. When migrating from paper, you decide whether to scan it all in, be selective, or just create a summary for each patient to enter into your EMR. When changing from one EMR to another, you have to figure out which fields of data can be mapped easily to the corresponding fields in your  new EMR - if you are fortunate…or whether to have static images of all prior visits from your old EMR entered as static documents in the new EMR. In our case, we are choosing a mixture of both…hoping to be able to keep the intraocular pressures as raw data so they can be graphed over time without starting over from new visits only.

Each EMR handles prescriptions for medications a bit differently. This is worth an article on its own to follow within the next couple of weeks.

Please feel free to comment below as I would appreciate what you have to say in making the transition from one EMR to another or taking the plunge for the first time.