The migration path from paper chart to electronic medical record (EMR) can be complicated. It involves many moving parts--from an initial needs assessment to the right technology and well-trained personnel, not to mention sufficient financial resources.

Your pre-EMR migration assessment should cover logistical needs and include a project manager or steering committee capable of discovering operational deficiencies that could lead to migration hiccups or costly failures during the process.

In addition, a competent vendor capable of populating electronic charts with patient data will be critical for providers, so they are not fumbling around in the dark with regard to patient history―especially for chronically or seriously ill patients—when rendering treatment after the migration.

Here are a few key factors to consider as you map your own strategy for EMR migration success.

Assessment Planning

A good strategic migration plan not only takes into consideration a needs assessment, but also a bird’s-eye view of all relevant processes—technological, clinical, human resources, operations and policies, communications—and develops an implementation pathway that clearly identifies strengths and weaknesses.

Other considerations, like the number of staff dedicated to the EMR migration, identifying what patient information needs to be digitized and where it will be stored, are key to this early phase of the migration process. These factors should directly impact your go-live date, providing an honest assessment to determine your hospital or clinic’s ability to meet a given deadline.

Process Management

Process management, or the “who” of your migration strategy, is also a very important phase of the migration because it identifies key staff, skill levels and their assigned roles, such as a project manager and data entry personnel who will be involved in managing the physical scanning and uploading of paper charts and their information.

This phase also requires identifying the time frame in which these individuals will perform their activities and how the paper records will be stored or destroyed once the migration is complete.

Scanning Oversight

If process management is the “who”, then the scanning oversight aspect of migration is the “what.” This is a highly crucial phase of EMR migration because it assigns priorities based on factors like:

  • Health of patient, e.g., acute or chronic
  • Date of upcoming appointments
  • What data from charts needs to be scanned
  • Your indexing strategy and definitions for scanned documents

End Goals

This part of EMR migration may seem clear-cut and obvious—to transition patient information access from paper to digital. But the migration path for an acute care facility may not be suitable for an ambulatory facility and vice versa.

Consider your needs and goals for go-forward interactions outside your organization’s walls. How will you share information with other organizations and providers, like hospitals, labs, and specialty providers? Is your goal to be completely electronic (paperless) or somewhere in between?

Each scenario presents different challenges that must be addressed during migration planning to ensure clear alignment with your organization’s long-term goals.

With a carefully crafted and comprehensive strategy, you will be in a much better position to achieve a smooth, successful EMR migration.

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Mark Johnston

Written by Mark Johnston

With 35+ years of executive management experience in healthcare, Mark has taken on almost every challenge the modern industry has faced. As company president, his healthcare vision and business acumen provides valuable daily leadership, and his connections have built an exceptional team and solid corporate partnerships that uniquely benefit Access customers. He has in-depth knowledge of every three-letter acronym—HIS, EHR, ECM, ERP and even BBQ.