Healthcare Data Archival Strategy – Part 3

Key Considerations For A Seamless Data Extraction, Conversion And Migration

This is the third part of a blog series that guides healthcare organizations who are about to embark on their data archival journey.

An effective and efficient data migration plan will improve data management, reduce costs, and aid in making informed business decisions around data integrity. Understanding and evaluating the legacy system and data formatting options is the key to building a project plan for data archiving. Collaboration between Medical record, SME, and IT support teams plays a critical role in executing a plan with the archive vendor team. Leveraging the unique skill set and perspective that each member brings enables us to meet your detailed project requirements.

Getting the most out of each specific platform

Each legacy system provides data in different ways. It is a good practice to utilize vendor-neutral formats that will allow for interoperability and provide real-time retrieval, at the same time maintaining compliance with privacy and security regulations and assuring independence from vendor-specific data formats. This provides an industry-standard format that will allow the archive to store original formats exported from legacy systems, such as HL7, HTML, CCD, XML, TXT, TIF, JPG, PACs, etc.

Points to ponder before embarking on complete data migration

Step 1 – Data Extraction

  • MPI mapping (EMPI) First step: Mapping MPI is the critical first step as this allows for the patient demographic data and visit information to be synchronized with both your new EMR and your archive system. This lays down the foundation for a smooth transfer of clinical data. Most migration processes should have the capability to script and compare MPI data to limit duplication but in some cases, you will end up with some manual verification in order to be the most accurate. Just to touch briefly on EMPI, this is an option and can be more accurate but will require an EMPI engine to manage the MPI throughput and is typically used more in large consolidation projects. 
  • Export Methods: Upon completion of the evaluation stage most of your export methods should have been defined and assigned to specific teams. These teams will now need to build and test the scripting and export process and provide samples for your team to review and approve. This process may be a combined effort among your internal system support, legacy vendor support, and archive support teams.

Step 2 – Data Conversion on output

  • Discrete data to report format: When considering data conversion, your legacy system may house text-based results like transcriptions, notes, and discharge information. This may come out of the legacy system as discrete data but may make more sense to convert this type of information into a document format for uploading and storing in both the archive and new EMR.
  • Data Mapping: Understand reporting vs reference, reference tends to be the notes and the text-based information vs the discrete data. For example, discrete laboratory result information will typically have multiple reporting options and would require a more detailed mapping plan to ensure that certain reports from the legacy system can be configured and run in the new systems. Keep in mind this will require the most effort in this migration process and may not be necessary for all types of data.

Step 3 – Data Migration: At this stage, scripts are already running, and data is being exported. Exported data can then be migrated/uploaded into the new EMR and your archive database.

  • Conversion on input:  In most cases, the data that was exported in a specific format should be retained and stored in that same format, but some formatting can also be applied during the upload process. Templates can be used to maintain a certain look and feel and in some cases document consolidation can be done to take different report types and combine them into a single file type like PDF.
  • Reconciliation/Validation process: Before the mass import, uploaded samples must be reviewed and approved from within the receiving system. This will be the final check to confirm if the patient information is correct and whether it is in the appropriate format in the new EMR and archive systems.

In Conclusion:

Largely, multifaced programs require more experience than a straightforward, single-system archival project. While devising a seamless data extraction, conversion, and migration is an important part of the healthcare data journey, an end-to-end archiving solution, such as iDocTM Archive coupled with vast experience and a capable pool of resources can help you take your data archival initiatives to new levels.

Stay tuned for the final blog in the series for in-depth insight into devising and executing a solid health data archival strategy.

If you are new to our Health Data Archival Blog series, click the links below to read the already published content:


Douglas (Doug) Strange

Douglas (Doug) Strange

Director – Healthcare Practice, iDoc™ Product Line



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