Computers in Healthcare

Problems and Challenges with Data Migration

Users of EMR systems regularly provide feedback through AmericanEHR about challenges they encounter when implementing and using an EHR. As part of our ongoing commitment to share experiences and highlight these challenges, these experiences are published on a regular basis. We welcome discussion and feedback from other users of EHRs. Experiences always relate in part to situations in an individual practice, however they are also reflective of broader challenges faced by all users.

One of the widespread challenges relates to data migration. Moving large batches of data from one EHR to another is very complex. A technical success does not always translate into a positive clinical experience. Note, this feedback is from a practice that implemented an EHR 4 months ago:

Our issues are mostly with the migration of our old data. Very very poorly done. after four months, eight years of electronic labs were finally transferred over, not as numerical data, but individually each test is put on a graph. No normal values, just a dot on a graph with and x and y axis. If you select the individual lab test for several dates, it gives you a line graph. But there is no way to view a “CBC” from July of 2008 without looking at each test individually. The time and effort involved in this is tremendous and is slowing us down big time. it also took 4 months to get to this point.

Regarding our previously scanned data (x-rays, consult reports, scanned labs). Eight years of data are transferred over WITHOUT DATES. So if you need to find the CXR from July of 2008 and there are 9 files in the radiology folder….start clicking….

It is all about money…..not only that but it is slow. Even with brand new computers. So think about all the clicking that potentially is there for a given patient encounter. Multiply that x 25 per day

Our ability to provide patient care has become much much more difficult and so far much much more expensive in terms of time and money.  There are some positives about this program, but we are very unhappy overall.

Patient portal is the bare minimum. If you want to exchange emails and comments on labs, get ready to start paying more money.

This experience is not uncommon for practices that are early in the implementation phase of an EHR. In my experience, it takes about 6-12 months (and sometimes longer) for a practice to become comfortable with an EHR and get the bugs worked out.

What has been your experience with data migration? What challenges did you face? You are invited to add your comments and share feedback.


2 responses to "Problems and Challenges with Data Migration"
  • October 24, 2011
    David Hager, M.D.

    I believe that HITECH is proof of the non-market ready status of EHR technologies.

    Docs are eager technology adopters. Why not EHR technologies? No lust. They haven’t had that “Oh … My God!” quality to them. Steve Jobs understood the need for that quality to get people to part with their money.

    So, bureaucrats, politicians, academicians, and administrators foisted this upon us anyway, “for our own good,” complete with transient carrots and durable whips.

    What we get is stuff not written for busy clinical work flows, and that interferes with normal human interactions, both pretty important parts of what we do.

    And if we don’t like the product after blowing big bucks on it?

    So sad. Too bad.

    Try changing to another product. How? Patient data is locked to the product. Data migration is expensive and onerous. (Might as well dump it all back to paper.)

    When clinicians are free to change EHR products at will (= competition), product quality will improve and price will drop, establishing a positive feedback loop of adoption. In this way, the market would accomplish what the government cannot.

  • May 25, 2015

    Because data migration is a complex process, it’s only understandable that we experience challenges and problems with it. However, the consequences of wrong data migration can be fatal not just for health care organizations but also the patients. Wrong data migration practices are often caused by the lack of the provider’s expertise and outdated systems that do not meet the data migration requirements. If we really don’t want these “mistakes” to happen again, we need to take EHR to the next level by using innovative technology systems and expert advice to carefully plan the data migration process.

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