How To Transfer Patient Data

Transferring Patient Data

Adopting a new electronic health record system is exciting and stressful because you must think through all aspects of your practice in detail. The truth is, no matter what medical software you use, transferring patient health data from one system to another is an important step. We at Eva Health decided to give you some best practices to successfully get patient data from one system into another. 

Prepare

Our onboarding process for Eva is a six-stage process. The goal of our onboarding is to help independent medical practices get their Eva instance up and running quickly with one caveat; we want you to do it right the FIRST time. That means you’ve got to Prepare your patient data, which is our first stage in onboarding. The Prepare stage becomes extremely important when transferring patient data from one system to another. Preparing your patient data means: 

  1. Get an export of all your patient data from your current system. Can your current system give you an export of all your patient data? If they can, is it only demographics or the entire medical record? 
    1. Patient Demographics Only: Most software will ask for a .csv file of your patient demographic information to import into their system. You will need to get this .csv file from your current system. A .csv file is simply an excel file saved in the .csv format.
    2. Patient Demographics AND Medical Records: Most software cannot automatically import all patients’ information. Why? Because every system organizes and names patient data differently, the fields would not match. If your new system claims they will do this for you, you will certainly pay extra for it, and it is best to plan for some data clean-up later. 
  2. How is the patient data organized? Is it one file per patient with other files listed, such as images, results, notes, etc.? Or is it simply one patient file with all the patient documents? 
    1. If your previous system did not name and date imported files, you will have issues knowing what each file is. The best practice is to have your staff name and date every file imported into your medical software. 
  3. How do you want to transfer your patient data? 
    1. Transfer all at once
    2. Transfer over time while using and paying for two systems

Transfer Patient Data All At Once

This is the cheaper and more efficient way to transfer patient data, with less possibility of human errors. Guess what? You can start your onboarding process with Eva before you purchase Eva. And truthfully, you can do this with any new software. Still, we provide the resources and education on how to do it because our mission is to help independent medical practices of all sizes thrive, not just survive. How? Prepare your patient data BEFORE you purchase. Yes, it is possible, and how you can actually transfer all your data at once. To do this, you’ve got to have an action plan and commit. I’ll cover this option more below. 

  1. Gather your data from your current system.
    1. Your patient demographic .csv file. 
    2. Your patients’ medical records. 
  2. Clean up your data in your current system. 
    1. Make sure your demographic file doesn’t have duplicate patients, all fields are filled out, and especially contact information (First name, Last name, email, phone, address). EVERY system is now federally required to give patients full access to their medical charts while remaining HIPAA compliant; therefore, email is a MUST for patient portal access. If you find lots of information is missing or outdated, update it! Have your staff ensure all patient contact information is up to date in the current system before you even think about transferring to a new one.
    2. Make sure the medical record data is also clean. Ask your current system to merge both records if you’ve got duplicate patients. 
  3. Identify the timeline and blackout date. 
    1. The timeline is crucial here and a much shorter window. Every day you use your old system, you add more data to a patient record, meaning you’d need a new set of files from your old system after that clinical day. 
    2. Choose your end date. Identify the day you will no longer use your old system and shut down your clinic for 2-3 days to complete your patient data transfer (except for emergencies). Most clinics will not do this, thinking they will lose too much money. You’ll have to decide if it is worth paying for multiple systems over a couple of months vs. losing 2-3 days of income. 
    3. Once you choose your go-live date, plan to get your data files sent to you from your current system. 
    4. You’ll send your Patient Demographic .CSV file to your new system for their team to import. 
    5. Import your patient’s medical records AFTER a successful Patient Demographic import. 
      1. We offer Patient Medical Record Import Strategies Here. (How to Import Patient Medical Records)
    6. Review your imports. 

Transfer Over Time While Using and Paying for Two Systems

No matter what path you choose, you need to prepare your data. Sorry, there is no way around this. Preparing your data is how to do it right the FIRST time. Unfortunately, paying for two systems, using them simultaneously, AND trying to transfer patient data from the old system to the new one is the most commonly chosen option. Even that sentence makes me cringe. This is why there are countless nightmare stories about moving from one electronic health record system to another. While we can give the best options here, we generally do not recommend this option. It is possible to do this successfully with preparation and clear system use boundaries. 

  1. Gather your data from your current system.
    1. Your patient demographic .csv file. 
    2. Your patients’ medical records. 
  2. Clean up your data in your current system. 
    1. Make sure your demographic file doesn’t have duplicate patients, all fields are filled out, and especially contact information (First name, Last name, email, phone, address). If you find lots of information is missing or outdated, update it! Have your staff ensure all patient contact information is up to date in the current system before you even think about transferring to a new one. 
    2. Make sure the medical record data is also clean. Ask your current system to merge both records if you’ve got duplicate patients. 
  3. Identify the timeline and blackout date. 
    1. The timeline is crucial here with a much longer transition. 
    2. Identify the day you will NO longer use your old system for charting, billing, updating information and COMMIT. Set clear system use boundaries here. Every day you use your old system, you add more data to a patient record, meaning you’d need a new set of files from your old system after that clinical day. 
    3. Once you choose your go-live date for the new system, plan to get your data files sent to you from your current system. 
    4. You’ll send your Patient Demographic .CSV file to your new system for their team to import. This is why you want accurate information! 
    5. Over time you will begin importing your patient’s medical records AFTER a successful Patient Demographic import. 
      1. This is where things can get tricky using two systems while transitioning medical record data. We offer Patient Medical Record Import Strategies Here. (How to Import Patient Medical Records With Grace)
    6. Review your imports. 

That is it. Simple as that. Obviously it does not feel or seem like a simple process, but one of the greatest benefits of joining the Eva Network and choosing Eva as your complete medical software is you get our support. We are a small, tightly knit group of individuals passionate about technological solutions that help independent medical practices thrive. 

Interested in learning more or just want to chat about options? Sign up for a demo or send me an email erin@evahealth.com

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