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What do you need to switch to a new EMR platform?

When it’s time to transition to a new system, you’ll find that there are core sets of data that will facilitate the transition. Other data sets may be easily accessible, but not quite as necessary to make the transition happen.

For example, only recently did standards require the National Library of Medicine representation of patient drug allergies to be included in the RxNorm Concept Unique Identifier to promote interoperability. For the most part, however, most allergy data sets are proprietary to third- party medication vendors, such as First Data Bank or LexiComp. While these vendors filled a critical data and system need before there was an accepted standard, the current disparity of data representation frequently makes mapping between systems a difficult process. To make matters worse, in order to make items like drug allergies meaningful, it is necessary to understand the reactions and their severity. These types of data elements, again, have no standardized nomenclature.

To help normalize the data between systems, third-party vendors specializing in extracting, analyzing and converting clinical data from one EMR system to another have entered the market. This process is often expensive, adding a significant amount to the cost of change. However, since there is a greater convergence of data representation, data export and data transitioning, the information will become more fluid and easily achievable.

If your new or prior system has difficulty with this transition process, you may question whether the data is needed in its discrete format instead of being referenced by viewing prior chart notes from the old system. Some data is unlikely to be needed in the context of routine patient care, and can be stored in an offline archive that is accessible when needed. Conversely, the data can be added again to the new system as patients visit the practice.

While the data conversion process may be challenging at times, it does not have to be the primary concern in your EMR selection process.

Data conversation is just one of many considerations in the world of EMR choices, and when 
it comes time to begin the process, your new vendor will be able to help you with any issues that arise from this particular aspect.

When engaging in this process, it’s particularly important to work with a vendor that allows your organization to easily migrate specific patient information like allergies, medications, lab results and immunizations without losing any key data in the process. This involves discrete data analysis and extraction, as well as specialized tools that enable you to map, cross-reference and test different types of data.  Question everything, especially when it comes to data.