News Feature | April 13, 2016

Health System Uses Innovative Vital Signs Viewer To Aid Massive EHR Conversion

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Tackling The Coming Surge In Healthcare Data With Trained Machines

Physicians could access the right data without toggling between systems during transfer.

Healthcare organizations are charged with improving quality, accessibility, and efficiency. Meanwhile, patient populations are exploding, medical knowledge is growing exponentially yet remains difficult to harness, and funding is constrained at every level. EHRs attempt to meet these challenges and transform care through the sharing of information and connecting of communities, but ensuring these systems are comprehensive, functional, interoperable, and able to be used in a timely and meaningful way is difficult. In fact, the migration of millions of patient records from legacy systems to new EHR systems is often a data conversion nightmare.

These were the obstacles facing the Franciscan Alliance, a 13-hospital health system serving Indiana and Illinois, when they migrated a 140-physician group practice to its new Epic EHR system. Physicians needed to access vital signs and patient identifiers for 250,000 patients, but these millions of records were not part of the initial year-long data conversion project.

To ease the transition and ensure quality of care during the process, Franciscan’s IT leaders adopted a process that did not convert all legacy data at once, but instead provided physicians the right patient data at the right time, without the need to toggle back and forth between legacy and new systems.

“This was an excellent use of the InterSystems HealthShare platform, demonstrating a new and strikingly simple way to think of EHR data conversions. It’s not always necessary to replicate all the data all at once or one time only. This new approach allows data access ‘just in time’ as part of the physicians’ natural work flow,” said Jill Thompson, Manager, Application Integration Services, for Franciscan Alliance.

Using interoperability technology from InterSystems and EHR Evolution, Franciscan Alliance eased through this transition with the development of a new clinician viewer, built in just six weeks. This capability appears as a single button within the Epic chart review screen and provides physicians in the Alliance network just-in-time access to critical vital signs data — in the context of the patient’s EHR.

Built on InterSystem’s HealthShare platform, the viewer also allows medical personnel to select historical records to move into the Epic EHR system to be part of the patient’s permanent health record, eliminating the Alliance’s need to replicate or convert data from one system to the next. This also reduces the time and cost of migration and also helps weed out dirty data within the Alliance’s system.