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Safely Moving Medical Data: Everything You Need to Know About EHR Migration


This blog was originally published in January 2022 and was updated in October 2023

Your patients’ data is at the heart of your ability to provide quality, responsive care – and protecting that data is critically important, particularly as you undergo the process of EHR migration.

Electronic health records (EHR) contain vital information about visits to other providers, lab results, and indications of potential conditions that will affect the way you treat your patients for the best possible outcome.

Understanding EHR migration can save your practice from exposing or losing patient information, which can maintain—or lose—the success and continued viability of your new independent practice

5 EHR data migration steps

Whether you are migrating from one vendor to another, from an outdated platform to a newer one, or to a certified EHR solution, your independent practice is not alone in your desire or need to migrate data. Many practices are going through an EHR migration to move to a secure cloud-based solution that requires less on-site maintenance, maintain certified EHRs to participate in value-based incentive programs, and improve their interoperability for coordinated care.

Here are five important steps to undertake during your medical data migration:

1. Do an audit of your existing data

Review your existing data to determine whether it needs to be cleaned up before migrating. Duplications and outdated information should be reduced and eliminated where possible.

2. Plan the migration

Work with your team and your vendor to plan the medical data migration. Determine a date that makes the most sense for your practice, and ensure that everyone is on board to make it happen.

3. Set up a workflow

Establish a workflow process for the migration as well as for ongoing data input and maintenance once the transition is complete.

4. Ensure the correctness of your data

Verify the accuracy of your data throughout the EHR migration process. This is a particularly important step if you are uploading information from paper files.

5. Train your team

Train your staff as you work through the EHR migration to the new platform. When your staff is better prepared, you’ll have much less downtime and, more critically, will take less time to become proficient with the new system.

Benefits of an EHR migration

There are many benefits to migrating data from an on-site EHR to a cloud-based solution, including the fact that the configuring, security, and software are now handled by the software as a service (SAAS) provider. This means you and your staff will have fewer worries about the safety, accuracy, and efficiency of your EHR data migration.

Once the transition is complete, your patient data will be maintained on an external server rather than a physical machine within your practice. You and your team will be able to access the data seamlessly and quickly while you spend more time focused on your patients, providing the quality care they deserve and expect from your new practice.

Challenges of EHR data migration

While medical data migration can have a massively positive impact on your practice, it’s not without its challenges. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

Data assessment

Before starting your EHR migration, you need to identify all the patient records and related data that you want to move from the old system to the new one. EHR systems can have a lot of data, so this can be a time-consuming process.

You also want to ensure you aren’t moving any outdated or duplicate information, so you’ll need to clean up the data and correct errors as you go. 

In addition, you won’t be able to move everything at once. You will need to decide which data is most important, and assign levels of urgency for which patient information should be moved first. 

And, through the whole process, you need to ensure that patient health data stays secure and isn’t lost or stolen. A dedicated EHR company can help you move through the EHR migration process smoothly. 

Of course, that brings us to the next challenge in medical data migration – choosing the right EHR.

EHR selection

There are a lot of EHR solutions on the market, and you want to make sure the one you choose to move to will work well for your practice. You should evaluate the vendor thoroughly with research and interviews, and should ensure it will integrate with the tools you are currently using.  

In addition, it’s important to look for a vendor who will provide training for your team if the new solution isn’t 100% intuitive.

Data mapping and conversion

You’ll need to figure out how to move information from your old EHR system to the new one. Some EHR systems store data differently, so you need to match the data fields in the old system with those in the new system. If there isn’t an exact match, you will have to decide how to handle it.

If your old system isn’t well organized to begin with, extracting the data to begin EHR migration can be a complicated process. 

Once you have mapped all your data and moved it over, you will also need to do thorough testing to ensure nothing went wrong during migration. 

Best practices when starting or switching an EHR

Sometimes it’s confusing to know where to start with EHR implementation. 

Luckily, we have a free guide to teach you strategies to sail smoothly through the whole implementation process for your new or existing independent practice. 

Download Now

Streamline your practice with Elation EHR 

Simplify your workflow, enhance communication, and improve patient care with Elation EHR. This efficient solution enables you to seamlessly transition your data with customized implementation and data import support. 

Learn more about Elation EHR