As the year Y2K approached, in 1998, Fiscal, our practice management company, informed us that they wouldn't be supporting their software for medical practices any longer. This predicament left us in a daunting and expensive situation of needing another EPM system. As a result, we decided to go with Medical Manager's system, a robust product among the offerings at the time. When we did make the the move over to EMR, Medical Manager was on the short list for obvious reasons.
We ultimately decided on NextGen as our choice of EMR. Following careful selection, we selected their integrated EPM/EMR solution even though this would mean we would have to abandon our EPM system by Medical Manager. This year we made the move over to NextGen's EPM before first using the EMR module. We had to decide if we were going to convert data from Medical Manager to the new system or not as a result.
If a medical practice decides to make the switch to a newer system with its own EPM module, there are some key issues to take into consideration before moving the data. This is particularly true of demographic and insurance information.
Over time, the info in an EPM database can degrade, due mostly to input errors. As an example, some of our staff were creating duplicate records for patients depending on what type of insurance they were using (personal or workman's comp.), believing this would save time. Unfortunately, in the end this information was quite difficult to reconcile.
With data field mapping, even when the information is accurate, it could be quite tedious to insure that the outdated info ends up in the correct place within the new database. Also, the majority of software vendors charge a flat rate for converting data from an older system to a newer one.
As we decided that NextGen would be the correct platform for us in the long term, we chose to manually input the data into the new system. The NextGen system had added new data fields in places where there were none in Medical Manager; these had to be filled in with the correct info. So, the time saved by converting the data would have been minimal as there was so much new info to be input, regardless. The time on this project was well-spent; we were able to rotate all of our staff members through the training room to learn the new EPM system - meanwhile others called patients to verify demographic and insurance info as they confirmed appointments into the new system.
Peter J. Polack, M.D., F.A.C.S., is founder of emedikon, a medical practice management consulting firm and president of Protodrone, a software development company specializing in medical practice applications. He is managing partner of Ocala Eye, a large multi-specialty ophthalmology practice. Find more useful articles and podcasts at http://www.medicalpracticetrends.com
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