EHR Migrations

How to transition to a new EHR or case management system

As a human services provider, you understand the importance of effective data management and documentation in providing high-quality care. Electronic health record (EHR) systems have become a vital tool in this process, contributing to improved client outcomes, streamlined workflow, and enhanced communication among care team members, and are now a requirement in the United States. With the rapid evolution of technology and changing health care needs, it is critical to regularly assess your organization’s EHR system to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your clients and staff. 

This article will explore the key considerations in assessing the need for new EHR and case management system, plus the potential benefits of making a change. By staying informed and proactive in your EHR planning, you can ensure your organization remains at the forefront of quality care delivery.

Table of Contents


Assessing the Need for a New EHR System

EHR migration can be complex, but the right approach can yield significant benefits for human service organizations and clients and create a culture of collaboration. As human service organizations strive to improve efficiency, accuracy, and data accessibility, conducting a thorough assessment to determine the need for a new EHR and case management system has emerged as a critical step in optimizing healthcare delivery in the digital age. Below are the steps in the process:

Evaluating the Limitations of the Current System

When considering an EHR migration, the first step is to assess the limitations of your current system. For example, evaluate the challenges you’ve faced in entering and retrieving client information, such as cumbersome interfaces or slow response times. Inefficiencies in data entry and retrieval can lead to delays in client care and can negatively impact staff productivity. Consider using a staff survey to gather anonymous and honest feedback from your organization’s users, which provides valuable insight into concerns that can help you identify areas for improvement. 

Another significant limitation stems from compatibility issues with external systems, including labs, pharmacies, or other health care providers. This lack of interoperability can hinder effective information exchange. 

Challenges in customization and workflow optimization can also create inefficiencies and hinder staff productivity. For example, as more providers and consumers utilize features such as video conferencing and mobile scheduling, it’s important to consider how the EHR and case management  system can integrate functionality into those tools. Additionally, security and compliance issues, such as inadequate security features or non-compliance with privacy regulations, can pose significant risks to client data protection. 

By assessing these limitations, you can make informed decisions about the need for a new EHR and case management system and ensure that the new system addresses these challenges effectively. This ultimately enhances collaboration across the health care ecosystem.

Establishing Goals and Objectives

Based on the evaluation, your team is well-positioned to establish clear goals and objectives for the new EHR and case management system. These objectives should address the limitations of the current system and focus on the desired improvements in client care, interoperability, workflow, and analytics capabilities. Below are some sample objectives for your new EHR and case management system:

Improved Client Care and Outcomes

The new Case Management and EHR system should enhance care coordination, and client engagement to achieve better health outcomes.

Enhanced Interoperability and Data Exchange

Seamless information exchange among different health care stakeholders is crucial for promoting continuity of care. The new EHR and case management system should promote interoperability and support the exchange of health information across different health care entities.

Streamlined Workflows and Increased Efficiency

Manual task automation, administrative reduction, and workflow optimization are essential for improving staff productivity and client throughput. The new system design should streamline workflows and automate manual tasks to increase efficiency.

Better Reporting and Analytics Capabilities

The new EHR and case management system should provide robust reporting functionalities and analytics tools to gain actionable insights for quality improvement and decision making. You can achieve this objective by implementing data analytics modules, customizable reporting tools, and data visualization dashboards.

Establishing these goals and objectives will ensure that the new system supports effective communication and collaboration across the health care ecosystem, meets specific workflow needs, and protects client data.

Engaging Stakeholders

After setting the core goals unique to your organization’s EHR migration, identifying stakeholders is a crucial next step in the process. This involves reaching out to clinicians, IT personnel, administrators, and support staff to ensure that all relevant departments are represented and their unique requirements and perspectives are understood. 

Similar to the initial evaluation stage, conducting surveys and interviews to gather feedback is an effective way to understand stakeholders’ pain points, suggestions, and concerns related to the current system and the transition process. The difference is that this extended group may engage with the EHR from a slightly different vantage point than your internal team, depending on their role in the care coordination system. Be sure to ask questions directly related to their experiences with the software to better understand the perspectives of all the end users.

Proactively engaging these stakeholders, addressing their concerns, clarifying doubts, and communicating the benefits of the new EHR and case management  system can increase buy-in and support. You can achieve this through regular meetings, training sessions, and open dialogue. By involving stakeholders in the migration process early on, you can ensure that the new system meets the needs of both clients and providers. This will lead to a smoother transition and a more successful implementation of the new system.

Planning and Preparation

With proper planning and thorough preparation, human service organizations can navigate complex challenges, mitigate risks, and ensure a smooth implementation process for the new EHR initiative, ultimately leading to improved client outcomes and organizational success. This includes:

Building a Project Team

A successful EHR migration requires a well-organized project team that can effectively manage the transition process. To build your project team, identify key roles and responsibilities and involve representatives from various departments. Assign team members specific tasks for project management, system configuration, training, data migration, and change management. 

Encouraging participation from representatives in the clinical, administrative, IT, and quality improvement departments ensures comprehensive input and a streamlined implementation process. Each department brings unique perspectives to the table, and their involvement can help identify potential challenges and mitigate risk. Building a project team that is committed to the success of the EHR migration is an essential step toward ensuring a successful implementation.


Conducting a Needs Assessment

Conduct a needs assessment to continue evaluating the limitations of your current system, with an eye toward how to address those gaps and limits with stakeholder and project team input. Analyzing current workflows and processes helps you identify areas that require improvement, such as inefficiencies and bottlenecks. 

By identifying these areas, you can ensure that the new EHR and case management  system improves overall efficiency. Identifying specific requirements and necessary functionalities is important to ensure that the new system meets the organization’s unique needs, such as client portals, clinical decision support tools, and interoperability with other systems. 

Finally, assessing regulatory obligations and compliance needs is crucial to ensure that the new system complies with relevant laws and regulations, such as HIPAA. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant financial and legal consequences for human service organizations. A thorough needs assessment can help you identify potential issues and rectify them during the EHR migration process.

Vendor Selection

After establishing clear needs, goals, and objectives for the new EHR system, the next step in the migration process is vendor selection. Create a comprehensive request for proposal (RFP) to outline the organization’s requirements, technical specifications, and evaluation criteria for potential vendors. When evaluating potential vendors, consider system functionality, interoperability, support services, and cost. 

Assessing vendor offerings and their ability to meet the organization’s specific needs is the best way to find a vendor that shares the organization’s values and is ready to work with you. Determine factors such as their system features, integration capabilities, vendor reputation, and pricing models. Careful vendor selection can help ensure a smooth EHR migration and successful implementation of the new system, including system configuration, testing, and training. 

Establishing a Realistic Timeline

Create a detailed project plan with milestones and deadlines to help keep the migration on track and prevent delays. This will help to avoid rushed projects and ensure a smooth transition to the new EHR and case management system. It’s important to establish a realistic timeline that accounts for all project planning stages and rollout phases, including system implementation, testing, training, and go-live. By setting realistic expectations and allowing sufficient time for each phase of the transition process, you can support staff through the EHR migration and minimize disruptions to client care.

Change Management and Communication

One of the most important aspects of implementing an EHR migration is excellent change management communication. Develop a structured approach to manage the transition, including strategies to address resistance to change and promote user adoption, to foster a sense of ease among staff and stakeholders. This strategy should include regular communication updates on the benefits and progress of the transition to keep stakeholders informed and engaged. 

By addressing any concerns or resistance to the new system, you can continually build staff confidence. This means providing clarity, offering channels for feedback, and addressing concerns openly and honestly to alleviate fears and gain support from end users. Having a pre-planned human communication infrastructure,  remaining receptive to feedback, and having a clear strategy to address inquiries can help you ensure a successful EHR migration that all stakeholders embrace and that you can scale as your organization grows.

Piloting and Testing

During an EHR migration, it is crucial to conduct pilot testing with a select group of users as part of the implementation and training stage. Create a plan to conduct comprehensive testing of the system functionality, data integrity, and security protocols. This includes a thorough dive into all the system functionalities, data integrity during migration, and security protocols to ensure compliance and smooth operation. 

Create a focus group to more deeply test the new system on a small scale, identifying potential issues, gathering user feedback, and making necessary adjustments. When pilot group members identify issues, you can resolve them promptly and retest, ensuring the system meets the organization’s requirements. Lingering user concerns can then go back to the vendor in a timely manner for technical support.

Comprehensive Training Program

Follow a successful pilot group migration with implementation and training for all staff. Customization and configuration are key considerations during this stage. Focus on collaborating closely with the vendor to align the EHR and case management system with your organization’s specific workflows and preferences. This customization ensures that the system meets the unique needs of your organization and helps optimize workflows. Interoperability with existing systems is also crucial; organizations must be certain that the new system can seamlessly integrate with existing systems and data migration plans. 

Developing a comprehensive data migration strategy helps to guarantee the accurate transfer of existing client data to the new system. By prioritizing these factors, you can provide a smooth transition to the new system. Ensure staff have many opportunities to practice various workflows and system integrations, and encourage them to ask questions and build confidence during the training process.

Data Migration Strategies

Data migration isa pivotal stage in the implementation of a new technology solution, such as an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, where meticulous planning and execution are crucial for a seamless transition. There are several critical steps to take when migrating client data:

Consider the Cost

As the customer, review the cost breakdown and assess the value of migration versus manual data entry. This includes considering the costs associated with migration tools, resources, training, and potential downtime during the migration process. By requesting a transparent cost evaluation, you can make informed decisions regarding the migration.

Develop a Data Transfer Plan 

A robust strategy for data migration can lead to a much smoother transition from the old system to the new system. This includes identifying the types of data to be migrated and outlining the processes for data validation, mapping, cleansing, and archiving. It’s also wise to have a backup of all client data prior to initiating the health data migration. 

Or, you can negotiate with the old vendor to keep the records for a set time during the clinical data migration phase in case of issues with compatibility during the transition. You can manage staff expectations by letting them know that some setbacks are normal and that the vendor’s EHR data migration services will provide support. Here is a further breakdown of these steps:

Determine the Scope

Defining the scope of the migration is essential to determine the range and depth of the migration process. This includes identifying the volume and types of data to be migrated. By clearly defining the scope, you can establish realistic goals and allocate appropriate resources for the migration.

Identify Migration Tools

Before starting the data migration process, it is important to determine the necessary tools required for the migration. These tools should be capable of handling the specific data types and formats involved in the migration. By selecting appropriate migration tools, you can ensure a smooth and efficient transfer of data from the old system to the new EHR system.

Set Milestones

To ensure a well-organized migration process, outline key stages in the migration process and establish targets for completion. This helps to monitor progress and ensure that the migration stays on track. By setting milestones, you can effectively manage the overall timeline of the migration.

Assign Roles

Detail roles and responsibilities to team members involved in the migration process is essential for effective coordination and execution. Each team member should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and be accountable for their assigned tasks. By assigning roles, you can ensure a collaborative and streamlined migration process.

Carefully Select Data Attributes

Understanding the types, formats, and sources of the data to be migrated is crucial for a successful migration. This includes analyzing the characteristics of the data, such as its structure, dependencies, and relationships. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the data attributes, you can work with your chosen vendor to develop effective strategies for data validation, mapping, cleansing, and archiving.

Ensure Data Accuracy, Integrity, and Compliance

The migration process should adhere to relevant regulations and privacy requirements, such as HIPAA, with measures to maintain data accuracy, integrity, and security. This includes implementing data validation processes, performing quality checks, and testing the migrated data to ensure it is accurate and complete. Data security measures should also be in place to protect client information during migration and after the go-live. 

Data transfer can feel like one of the most crippling and laborious parts of the EHR migration process. By prioritizing your migration strategy and data integrity, you can avoid data loss or corruption, minimize downtime, build stakeholder trust, and ensure a seamless transition to the new EHR and case management system.

Parallel Operations and Dual Charting

To ensure the continuity of client care during EHR migration, you should implement a parallel operations phase. This entails running both the old and new systems concurrently to minimize disruption to client care and facilitate a smooth transition. By maintaining both systems during the transition period, you can allow access to the old system for reference purposes while gradually transitioning to the new system. This approach helps ensure that client data is accurate and accessible throughout the transition, minimizing the risk of errors and allowing clients to receive the care they need without interruption.

System Go-Live

The final phase of an EHR migration is the system go-live, which involves setting a specific date for the official launch of the new EHR and case management system. Before the go-live date, it is crucial to conduct final testing and resolve any remaining issues to ensure the system is fully functional and stable. Once the system is ready, you can roll it out to all users. To facilitate a smooth transition to the new system, effectively communicate the go-live date and provide necessary training and support to all users. During this phase, it is essential to maintain data integrity, accuracy, and compliance. 

Post-Implementation Support

Having a dedicated support team available after the go-live date can help maintain data accuracy and security during the post-implementation support phase. The support team should consist of a liaison from your organization who is available to provide timely assistance to users during the initial period after the go-live, a point person from the software vendor to address specific technical issues that arise, and a manager-level staff member to oversee the communications strategy and report back to the executives. 

To optimize system usage, continuously monitor the performance of the new EHR system, collect user feedback, and address any ongoing issues or improvement opportunities. It is important to establish clear communication channels and escalation protocols to ensure that you resolve issues in a timely and effective manner. Furthermore, it is essential to provide ongoing training and education for users to increase their proficiency with the new system and minimize the risk of errors. 

Responding promptly to user inquiries, troubleshooting technical issues, and offering proactive guidance may satisfy stakeholders before major concerns arise. By providing robust post-implementation support, you can ensure a successful EHR migration and maximize the benefits of the new system.

Evaluation and Optimization

Evaluation and optimization is a critical phase in the ongoing development and improvement of a health care system, allowing organizations to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations and make necessary adjustments for optimal outcomes. It includes the following components:

Post-Implementation Assessment

The final phase of an EHR migration involves evaluating and optimizing the new system’s performance to ensure that it aligns with the predefined goals and objectives, such as improvements in value-based care, workflow efficiency, and data management. Additionally, you should seek feedback from end users and stakeholders through surveys, focus groups, or individual interviews to gather insights on their experiences and identify areas for enhancement. 

You can use this feedback to optimize the system’s performance and improve user satisfaction. By continuously monitoring and evaluating the system’s performance, you can identify ongoing issues or improvement opportunities and address them in a timely manner. This can help you maximize the benefits of the new EHR and case management system and ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of the organization.

"We made it a priority to communicate with staff how important it was to make this transition, focusing on the ways the new system would ease everyone’s day-to-day work and move the organization forward in the long term."
Jane Pirsig
Executive Director,
Aurora Family Service

Continuous Training and Education

The success of an EHR migration is heavily dependent on users’ proficiency with the new system. That’s why providing continuous training and education opportunities is critical. You should offer traditional on-site training programs that cover system features, enhancements, and best practices to ensure users stay updated and are maximizing the benefits of the new system.

Additionally, it’s important to encourage users to explore and utilize the system’s full capabilities through ongoing education and support. This can include highlights of advanced functionalities that users may not have used previously or that are unique to the new system. Sending out a monthly newsletter, emailing daily feature tips, and utilizing social media for short training video guides are a few examples of modern ways to keep stakeholders engaged and informed.

Optimizing Workflows and Processes

By identifying opportunities to streamline workflows and eliminate redundant steps, you can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of errors. This involves analyzing system usage and user feedback to identify areas of improvement. Collaborating with key stakeholders is also essential in implementing necessary changes and improvements. Work with your chosen vendor to see if there is an integrated chat messenger or user portal to streamline the collection of feedback on workflows.

By optimizing workflows and processes, you can improve overall client care, reduce costs, and increase staff satisfaction. This phase should be ongoing, with regular evaluations and adjustments made as needed to ensure that the system continues to meet the organization’s evolving needs.

Data Analytics and Reporting

One of the significant benefits of EHR migration is the potential to leverage data analytics and reporting capabilities. By exploring the tools and functionalities of the new system, you can gain insights into client outcomes, resource utilization, and operational performance. Furthermore, you can develop customized reports and dashboards that provide actionable information to support decision making, quality improvement initiatives, and regulatory reporting requirements. 

You can tailor these reports and dashboards to meet the specific needs of different stakeholders, such as clinicians, administrators, and regulators, and use them to monitor key performance indicators, identify areas for improvement, and track progress over time. Overall, leveraging the data analytics and reporting capabilities of a new EHR and case management  system can help you make informed decisions, improve client care, and enhance operational efficiency.

If you are searching for new software, our team can offer an honest opinion on the right EHR for your agency and your programs, given your unique needs.