Moving to a New EMR? What You Must Know About EMR Data Conversion

On average,data conversion hospitals and clinics change to a new software vendor and does data conversion every five to seven years.  If you are planning on changing your EMR or already moved to a new EMR in the last year or two, you must give some thought to the patient data conversion in the old system. It’s not too early to start thinking about your  next data conversion to a new system. Be prepared to make your next data conversion a success.


Data Conversion Dilemma:

Here is the typical dilemma faced by the IT manager or CIO while doing data conversion.

Who owns the data?

The old EMR vendor you are leaving behind does not own your data; you do. So, you have the right to migrate it to the new system or an archival system of your choice.

Who will do the migration?

Many times the hospital and providers are lead to believe that the new EMR vendor will do this data migration from old EMR. What comes, as an unpleasant surprise is that the EMR vendor converts only some of the data, not all of it. So, the question at hand is if the hospital in-house IT staff has the bandwidth to handle this huge one-time task.

Ease of access to old data:

Your staff wants an easy access to the old medical records. Preferably the old records should be copied into the new EMR so that when there is a request for information from a patient it is easy to access. An alternative is to move the data to archival software, which can be readily accessed. Leaving the old data in the old EMR is not a good idea because it is not easy to access; within a year all your users would have forgotten how to use the old system


State laws require you to retain and have ready access to legacy data for 7 to 10 years. Check with your compliance officer on the data retention policy for your facility


It is very expensive to license, support, and keep the old financial and/or clinical data in the old EMR. Many facilities think they can stop paying annual support to the old EMR vendor. But that is a huge risk. What if the old EMR does not boot-up or does not let you login one fine day?

Uncertainty and Security:

Who will keep the old system running? Who will know how to use it after a year or two? Will the old vendor support an old version of the software or hardware? Will the Windows or IBM server on which it is residing continue to be maintained by your IT team for security updates?

Data Conversion Planning Options:

When planning the conversion, the CIO must consider the following options:

  • Migrate not ‘some old data’, but ‘all old data’. You can either move it to your new EMR or to an Archival system. The archival system can be in an in-house database, or in a secure Cloud environment. Triyam’s ONC certified products provides all these options to its customers.
  • Make retrieval of old data easy. It should not be another piece of complex software, which needs user training. All medical records should be in one easy to access location under a patient.
  • Determine how many years of data is to be retained, how they will be archived or destroyed after their retention period. Determine what data is to be stored – clinical/financial etc, in what form discrete data/consolidated reports etc. Determine what search and retrieval filters to provide patient name/dob/admission dates/diagnosis etc.
  • Be compliant and save hidden costs by engaging the experts in the field. Don’t burn out your internal staff hours and energy.

EHR 2.0, is proud to present a webinar in this topic with two renowned speakers. Join our webinar on Thursday, March 3, 12:00 EST to hear from two legacy presenters. We will give you a couple of war stories and pitfalls to avoid plus some ideas of how to make your conversion a big success. Questions and answers are welcome.


Mike-Peterson-150x150Mike Peterson is a top-performing Solution Consulting Manager with extensive experience in providing enterprise healthcare solutions to hospitals, clinics, and post-acute care settings. Mr.Mike has aproven track record of achieving financial goals and increasing revenue in complex and competitive environments through direct sales efforts, managing professional SME support teams, and contributing to the development of the product roadmap.  Read more >>


Steven NelsonSteven Nelson, Sr VP with Triyam and Healthcare IT Consultant.  Mr.Nelson is the former president of American HealthNet and Nelson Data Resources.  He has focused his career on providing clinical, financial, analytic software and service solutions to the healthcare industry.  He has many years of experience working with numerous healthcare IT installations, conversions, and transformations.  Mr.Nelson and his team  provide creative, cost-efficient options and alternatives to their clients and are a great business partner to assist with business strategy and planning. Read more >>

EMR Data Conversion


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