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    The challenges of switching EHRs


    Now, some of those systems are becoming outdated or are no longer being supported by their vendor, says Pat Wise, MS, FHIMSS, vice president of information systems for the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS). In addition, Wise notes, the trend of independent practices becoming part of healthcare systems means many of those practices are having to change to the EHR used by the practice’s new owner.

    Finally, for practices to be eligible for bonuses under Medicare’s reimbursement programs taking effect next year, they will need some types of technology—such as patient portals—that many older systems simply don’t have. 


    The biggest challenge: data transfer

    For whatever reason they decide to switch EHRs, the biggest challenge practices face is transferring patient data from the old system to the new.


    Further reading: With hacking on the rise, physician records at risk


    Daniel Goodman, MD, a solo internist in the Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Dunwoody speaks for many when he calls the process “a nightmare.”

    Goodman acquired his first EHR when he joined the Emory Health Network in 2012. Three years later, Emory said it would no longer support many of the systems used by its affiliated practices, including Goodman’s, causing him to switch to a system that
    Emory would support. 

     While some of his patient data transferred seamlessly, Goodman encountered numerous problems for which no one seemed to have an explanation, such as patients’ names being duplicated or last and first names being reversed. Eventually, much of the data had to be re-entered manually into his new system. “The whole process was expensive, frustrating and incredibly time-consuming,” he says.

    In addition, he says, his previous vendor would grant him access to his patient data only if he continued his subscription. He wound up paying $3,500 to obtain some of the data, such as consult notes and patient progress. But that data did not integrate well into the new system. So now when he sees patients who pre-date the switch he has to toggle frequently among screens and folders to get a complete picture of the patient’s status. 

    Next: Vendors take different approaches


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