Manual Data Conversions in Healthcare Are Risky

Healthcare, Pharmacy

July 8th, 2020

Advanced technology brings freedom from manual tasks. Yet some providers still push manual data conversions. Find out why it’s so risky.

risky manual data conversions

The whole point of technology is to make processes more efficient and effective. However, it wasn’t that long ago, manual data conversions were the norm. We know all about it because our founders wrote the script to end manual migrations. 

In the book of data conversion best practices, you don’t want to revert back to manual tasks. It’s too risky a proposition. So, why do some data conversion companies still offer it? 

Manual Data Conversions vs. Programmatic Data Conversions

At first glance, you may think there’s no harm in using manual processes to migrate your healthcare data. It seems harmless, right? Let’s look at the differences in each type of conversion.

Manual data conversions require human intervention. Transcribers collect information about patient medical records. Then it’s stored in a database. When the new EHR or pharmacy system is ready for deployment, individuals then pull out the information and attempt to put in the same fields. 

While it seems simple and easy, it’s ripe with risk!

Programmatic data conversions provide a more automated approach. Programmers draw test data from a source system and then restructure or reformat it to the target system. Field matching and mapping, quality assurance, and validation are all parts of this process. 

It happens in a safe, compliant environment with protocols and controls along the way.

The Big Risks of Manual Data Conversions

manual data conversions

What can go wrong in manual migrations? A lot. 

  • It’s expensive: Manual may seem attractive to small practices or pharmacies. No matter the volume of your data, anything manual requires more labor, so it’s more costly. It’s very hard to make a business case for this being cost-effective.
  • It takes a long time: Unless you have an army of data entry professionals, manual migration will take substantially longer than programmatic data conversions. If you’re switching software, it’s typically an urgent need, especially if your software is sunsetting
  • Human error: Machines are more accurate than humans when it comes to moving data. If users have to transcribe, there will be small mistakes, like transposing numbers. Even if it’s a lot of copy and paste, errors will still occur. There’s also no real way to QA what a data entry person does. It’s not like using spellcheck to find misspellings. Each record has the possibility of manipulation. 
  • Compliance and legal risks: If using a manual provider, how do you know that all PHI is safe and secure? It’s harder to know the environment in this scenario. Programmatic conversions don’t leave safe, compliant spaces. But what if a data entry clerk leaves her desktop open with PHI for all to see? That’s a huge risk not worth taking.
  • System familiarity: Data management companies that focus on programmatic migrations have in-depth knowledge of the source and target systems. This expertise is necessary for the most accurate results. Data entry folks just aren’t going to have this experience.
  • Data governance concerns: Data governance supports the consistency of formatting of data. It’s easier to achieve in an automated fashion with set parameters. Manual interactions may overlook this step.
  • You need clean data: Dirty data is not what you want to convert. Data cleansing or purging is a best practice but not feasible with manual conversions. Implementing your new system is a chance to start over with clean, relevant data.

Data Conversions from a Trusted Partner

We’ve been converting healthcare data for over 23 years, working on thousands of projects every year. As a pioneer in the industry, we know all the ins and outs of data conversions. You can trust our team to use the most advanced technology and programming available, so your conversion is pain-free, accurate, and on time. 

Learn more about our data conversion process today!

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