Five Steps for Switching Urgent Care EHRs

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Are you thinking about switching your current EHR? Don’t worry – you have options. When it comes to who’s managing your EHR, bigger isn’t always better, and this may be the perfect time to switch. The chances are good that you dislike your EHR already. According to the 2020 Medical Economics Technology Survey, 70% of doctors have used the same EHR for more than five years. In the same survey, 38% of physicians said they wanted a system that was easier to use, and 33% said they wanted improved customization options.¹

But switching EHRs is a huge hassle and headache, right? Not if you do it the right way. Most urgent cares enjoy two significant benefits when they change EHRs:

Money Saved

Many EHRs are unreasonably overpriced, especially for developing locations. Too much monthly cash flow goes out of the office door. Switching to a more efficient EHR can save your practice thousands of dollars a year.

An Easy-to-use EHR

Most EHRs were designed by administrators, not clinicians. They suffer from clunky workflows and interfaces. It takes too many clicks to document even the simplest things. As a result, physicians struggle to finish patient charts during the visit. Then they spend hours completing charts after the patient leaves. By switching EHRs now, you can enjoy years of greater professional satisfaction with patient care documentation.

This blog discusses 5 steps to make switching EHRs easier. That way, you can save money and get a product you enjoy using.

Step 1: Find the Right EHR for You

So let’s say you didn’t buy the right EHR the first (or second) time. What can you do to ensure you end up with the right EHR for your practice?

Type of practice

This may seem obvious but start by asking what kind of practice you are. Medical practices come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Many EHR systems are on the market, and many of them are geared for a particular type of practice.

Too many providers buy EHR systems that weren’t designed for urgent care. This is a recipe for dissatisfaction, as urgent care needs are unique in an efficient workflow.

Start by asking yourself, are you urgent care or primary care? Are you in a large group or a small niche? Then look for the EHR solutions designed to serve your type of practice. This will help you reduce a list of dozens of vendors to just a handful.

Easy data migration process

It should be easy and inexpensive to make the switch to your next EHR. Ask vendors if they offer free tools for importing patient demographics and Continuity of Care Documents. Ask your current vendors about your options for exporting data. (See more on this topic in Steps 2-5)

Step 2: Notify your Current EHR Vendor

Once you’ve picked a new EHR that meets all or most of the criteria above, you need to notify your current vendor. Hopefully, you haven’t signed a long-term contract that locks you into their system.

There’s a buzz phrase in the EHR community: “Holding data hostage.” In these horror stories, a practice wants to stop using an EHR, and the vendor won’t let them access their patient data. Many EHR companies will then demand the practice pay a “data access fee” of thousands of dollars. This is holding your data hostage until you pay a “ransom.”

Make sure your data isn’t held hostage. If it is, speak to your lawyer.

Step 3: Import your patient demographics

If you followed Step 1, you’re switching to an EHR that allows you to import patient demographics.

You export your patient data from your current EHR to an Excel spreadsheet (i.e., CSV file). Your new vendor should handle the rest.

Step 4: Import Continuity of Care Documents

Once you have patient demographics in your new EHR system, you can tackle “structured clinical data” at its most basic level. Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs) / Continuity of Care Records

(CCRs) specify the encoding, structure, and semantics of a patient summary clinical document for exchange between EHR systems.

The CCD/CCR patient summary contains a core data set of the most relevant administrative, demographic, and clinical information about a patient’s healthcare, covering one or more healthcare encounters. This summary usually includes the patient’s problem list, medications, and allergies.

Every EHR handles CCD/CCR differently. For example, UrgiChart can import a CCD as an item, adding a viewable report to the patient’s chart. To be clear, this doesn’t parse out all the discrete data elements contained within a CCD and adds them to the different sections of the patient’s chart.

Exporting and importing a CCD/CCR is doable for some major EHR systems, but not all. Check with your vendor.

Step 5: Convert Medical Records 

But what about the patient information in your old EHR system that goes beyond the CCD/CCR? What can we do about your actual notes and other structured data?

To make a complete transfer of patient data from your current EHR to your new EHR, you have four very different choices:

Manual Transcription – Manual data transfer by a medical transcription service. This can be costly, but it means practices can have all their existing patient and clinical data in a structured format in their new EHR system on day one.

Data Extraction and Conversion – Third-party companies, such as Ellkay, can electronically extract and convert patient data from one EHR system to another. This is a costly choice. However, it means practices can have all of their existing patient and clinical data in a structured format in their new EHR system on day one.

Scan Patient Records – Scanning old charts into a new EHR system can be a cost-effective choice. For example, with UrgiChart, you can use any scanner to scan to a desktop and upload from a local file.

EHR Archive – Your least expensive and lowest-risk option is to archive your entire legacy EHR data set for reference on an “as needed” basis. This satisfies all data retention requirements.

What works best for you depends on your goals and how much money you’re willing to spend.

Conclusion

As you’ve learned, switching EHRs doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The rewards of lower costs, increased efficiency, and a higher degree of usability can make it more than worthwhile to explore this option.

We can help you switch EHRs. If you have any questions or wish to learn more, please fill out the form below.