Data Conversions: What Healthcare Needs to Know


May 26th, 2020

Data conversions are a necessary step in migrating from one health information system to another. Learn about best practices for data conversions.

data conversions for healthcare

Data conversions are a fundamental part of any software migration. Healthcare entities often change health information systems (HIS) for a variety of reasons. When they move, they need to bring their data to the new system. But data conversion in healthcare can be complex. Here’s what every healthcare entity needs to know.

What Is a Healthcare Data Conversion?

The healthcare industry relies on HIS platforms to improve the efficiency and quality of care for patients. They are also necessary for meeting guidelines and reporting. These platforms can include EHRs, eMARs, pharmacy systems, and a variety of other healthcare-associated applications. Moving your data from one system to the next requires a thorough and customized process. It’s not copying a database and pasting it into the new system. 

healthcare data conversion requires:

  • Accurate field matching
  • The ability to find all places where data resides 
  • Collecting structured and unstructured data
  • Usage of robust QA processes to ensure accuracy
  • Adherence to all security and privacy rules

8 Things to Know Before You Convert Data

healthcare data conversion

There are several critical things that every healthcare organization should know about data conversions.

Field Matching 

Every HIS is different in the way that it treats data fields. There is rarely a one to one match, especially in the case of nonstandard fields. Further, you may have fields that aren’t being used for their intended purpose (i.e., using a driver’s license field for an email address).

This can cause problems if you aren’t working with a specialized team intimate with how these systems hold data. 

Mismanaging Responsibilities

At the onset of a data conversion project, the roles and responsibilities should be clear. It’s a group effort between your healthcare data management partner, software vendors, and your organization. 

For example, your existing software provider will likely have to grant access to your current records for a pull. Then, the data conversion company cleans, formats, and matches the data to be sent to the new application. This “test” data would need to be verified for accuracy by you and your new software team. 

Ditching Junk Data

Junk data is prevalent in most HIS platforms. Junk data describes a set of information that is unlinked or not active. Getting read of stale data with a purge is recommended; however, keep in mind that most organizations must keep patient records for a certain amount of time to be compliant with retention requirements. 

Incomplete Requirements

As you work toward migrating your data, all parties must be on the same page. In many cases, requirements align with assumptions, not facts. Assumptions can be dangerous! Plan ahead for data structure disparity by having a data conversion partner that understands the intricacies. 

Nailing Down Timelines

Your goal is to meet your go-live date. This could be in jeopardy if requirements are incomplete or responsibilities aren’t clear. To ensure timelines are reasonable and meetable, communication with all stakeholders is crucial.

Identifying Cross-Object Dependencies from the Start

Cross-object dependencies describe fields that are dependent and in different areas. Challenges occur when fields aren’t attached to a patient or attachments are no longer valid. This often occurs with insurance cards. 

Addressing Improperly Entered Fields

Fields like addresses, phone numbers, and dates may have a standard format. If the information has been entered outside of this, you’ll need to notify your conversion team.

Converting Images

In many data migrations, there are images. Image conversions are different from data ones and require extra steps. Be sure you are working with a provider that understands these differences and has a solution. You may also want to consider archiving certain images, especially if they are not relevant to your current patients.

Pain-Free Data Conversion from InfoWerks

We’re proud to say we’ve completed over 27,000 data projects for the healthcare industry. We offer a customized approach that’s platform agnostic. We make the journey of a data conversion pain-free! Explore more reasons why you should choose us for your data conversion.

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