EHR Replacement: Addressing Data Ownership And Migration

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | April 4, 2014

In many cases, an EHR replacement ends up being even more complicated than an initial implementation.  Clinicians now have a laundry list of complaints about the first system and may be vocal in demanding specific changes that a new EHR must include. Administrators, feeling burned by the financial drain of low productivity and inappropriate software, may be leery of the promises of new vendors offering up different products.  But perhaps the biggest challenges of replacing an EHR are ensuring access to the data an organization has compiled within its first system and migrating that data to a new EHR with a minimum of disruptions.

Unfortunately, many providers don’t anticipate the eventual need to change vendors, and may not pay as much attention as they should to the first contracts they sign.  Last year, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) addressed this issue with a guide to EHR vendor contracts, but by that time, a large number of providers were already on board with their first vendor, and may have signed to terms that will end up being problematic.

A spate of data ownership disputes and access denials in 2013 turned the “Year of EHR Replacement” into the “Year of Nightmares” for some providers.  Before you consider switching systems, make sure you take a hard look at the contract you have and be sure to consult legal experts if necessary.  Does the EHR vendor claim to own all the data that resides in its system?  Does it have a clear and standard method of data transfer?  Do you need to pay extra for this service?  How will you receive the data, what will the timeframe be, and will it be compatible with your new vendor of choice?