When you start using PCC at your practice, will your patient and account records already appear in PCC, or will you be entering everything from scratch?
For most practices, PCC performs a data conversion from a previous computer system to PCC. We export your records from your old system, we work with you to design and verify a conversion procedure, and then we import the data into your new system so your office is ready to go during your first day online with PCC.
Many different factors determine what data can and can’t be converted, and the success of the data conversion relies on PCC’s efforts, your cooperation, and the cooperation of your practice and your previous software vendor or vendors. If we can work together to convert your old data, your first few months with PCC will be much easier for all of your staff.
This document will explain the data conversion process and help set expectations. By reading it, you will learn:
- The step-by-step Data Conversion timeline
- How PCC will research your existing computer system, and what you can do to help
- What data we can usually convert, what data we can not convert
- What PCC does, and what you or someone at your practice needs to do, to ensure a successful data conversion
As always, please feel free to call or e-mail us to discuss any of the details in this document. We can work with you to evaluate different options and adjust the data conversion process to meet the goals of your practice.
The Data Conversion Process: Who Does What, and When?
Even before you sign a contract with PCC, our sales team and new client consultants can begin discussing the data in your previous software system. We will help you determine what data can be brought over to your new system. These first questions kick-off a series of data conversion steps that occur during your training and kickoff meeting, our visit to your practice, right up until your first day online with PCC.
Below is a timeline of a successful data conversion. For each step, you can see what happens, what PCC does, and what you or someone at your practice needs to do.
Stage 1: Early Evaluation of Your Existing System
During your search for a new EHR and Billing software solution, you should ask about the data conversion from your existing system. Depending on your current system, PCC can give you a rough idea of what data we convert even before you sign with us.
We can not guarantee the success of any data conversion, as there may be unforeseen technical obstacles or difficulties getting cooperation with your old software vendor. However, PCC has experience converting data from dozens of systems of various complexity, from homegrown systems to advanced EHRs.
When Does This Step Take Place?: Before you sign with PCC.
What You Do: First, take stock of all the data you have in different software systems. Do you have an existing EHR, a billing system, a contacts database, a prescriptions system? Where is your data? Next, you should ask PCC, and any other vendor you are considering, what they can do to convert your data.
What PCC Does: We provide you with consulting advice and tips on how your data will be converted. We can give you a good approximation of what data can be converted.
Stage 2: PCC Researches Your Data
As soon as you sign with PCC, we begin asking questions and researching your old data. If we have previously converted data from your software system, then we may have existing conversion processes which we can start adapting for your data conversion.
When Does This Step Begin?: At the PCC Introduction meeting, where you meet with PCC Sales, our Development team, and the New Client team.
What You Do: First, you will provide PCC with an explanation of where your patient and account records are currently stored, as well as what your relationship with your existing software vendor is like.
Second, you will provide PCC with remote access to your existing computer system and login credentials. (Note that as part of your contract with us, PCC maintains a HIPAA agreement ensuring the privacy of your patient data.)
Third, you’ll need to answer questions from PCC’s data conversion specialists as we research how your data is currently stored. We’ll be in touch frequently.
What PCC Does: Our data conversion specialists log into your existing system and evaluate the different databases where information is stored. For example, we will discover if we can run custom reports, or access the underlying databases directly.
If we’ve worked with your former software vendor before, we may know exactly how data is currently structured and be able to begin writing and testing conversion scripts. We’ll also need to evaluate how your particular practice uses your old system, such as where you store and keep patient and account notes, or any special configuration changes you have made.
As we do this research, we will send you questions and sample data to review.
Stage 3: Review Findings, Optionally Communicate With Your Existing Vendor
For 4 out of 5 offices, direct access to your old system allows PCC to complete a data conversion to your new system. However, in some situations, particularly with Web-based products, PCC can not connect to your previous database and download the data you need without direct cooperation with your existing software vendor.
In some situations, we can get some data, such as patient and account demographic information, but we are unable to retrieve medical data (for example). If that’s the case, your practice can decide whether or not to contact your existing vendor for help, and/or to pay for a data export.
When Does This Step Occur?: After PCC has done initial reconnaissance on your existing system, at least 2 or 3 months before your online.
What PCC Does: PCC will report to you on our research into your existing system. We’ll let you know what data we believe we can retrieve from your system.
What You Do: First, you will have to decide whether to contact your previous vendor for help exporting your data or paying for a data export. We will help you make that decision.
If you decide to contact your existing vendor, you will facilitate communication between PCC and your existing vendor. For example, PCC may give you a written description of what data is needed, or you might schedule a three-way phone call or facilitate a three-way e-mail conversation to resolve issues with getting your practice’s data.
Other Important Notes
Prepare for Unexpected Costs: Your previous vendor’s IT support may help you run reports or access your system under your existing support agreement. Your vendor may also charge you a fee, which is why we always attempt to log in and retrieve the data manually first. Depending on your vendor and the size of your practice, the fee may be tens of thousands of dollars, and the data export fee may need to be paid twice, once to evaluate the data and write a conversion script, and a second time directly before your official PCC online in order to get the most recent data possible.
You, or Your Practice's IT Expert, Is in Charge of Communication About Your Data Export: Whenever possible, PCC logs directly into your old system and performs a data conversion. However, if direct cooperation is required with your previous vendor, it is important to remember that you or your practice’s IT professional must be the manager of that communication. All communication occurs in the context of your practice’s existing support contract with the vendor, as you are their paying customer. PCC does not have the authority to deal directly with the vendor. We typically solve this with three-way phone conferences or three-way e-mail threads between you, PCC, and your previous software vendor.
Stage 4: Data Conversion Design and Initial Verification
Once we have determined what data we will convert, PCC performs an initial data conversion. We sends you the results for review and verification, and we communicate back and forth to adjust the data conversion process.
When Does This Stage Occur?: At least four weeks before you go live with PCC.
What PCC Does: With or without the cooperation of your previous vendor, PCC designs and builds data conversion scripts for your data. Then we run an initial data conversion and install it on a temporary database for your evaluation. PCC provides support as you log into a test database and review your converted data.
What You Do: You and your staff will log into the temporary database, review the data conversion result, and report any problems. Did the patient demographic and medical data come over correctly? Are patient insurance policies appearing? Do you also want to retain additional data, like the old system account number?
We will work together to adjust and perfect the data conversion process for your practice. It is during this step that unusual customizations or special ways your practice used your old system sometimes come to light.
Stage 5: The Final Data Conversion, Verification, and Sign Off
A day or two before your go-live day, PCC runs the final data conversion from your old system to your new PCC database. You do a final verification of your data to make sure it is all there.
When Does This Stage Occur: One or two Days before your official PCC online date
What PCC Does: Overnight, PCC does a final data export from your old system or receives a final data export directly from your previous vendor. We use the data conversion process that we developed in the previous steps to load your new PCC installation with all your patient and family records.
What You Do: You and your staff reviews the data conversion one last time. Is patient and family data ready for your online?
Sign That Data Conversion Was Complete?: For some practices, particularly when there needs to be communication between many different physicians or different office locations, PCC may ask a physician or office manager to sign a statement that the data was reviewed and the conversion was acceptable. We do this so that all parties involved understand that the conversion was completed and reviewed, and so everyone knows that all the data we expected to see in your new PCC system is present.
What Do I Need to Do to Ensure a Good Data Conversion?
The procedure above walks through each step of the data conversion process. But what are the most important points you need to know? What are the issues that practices sometimes overlook or underestimate about saying goodbye to your old system?
Keep Your Old System Up and Running: You will need your existing software system for verification of data conversions, for understanding any discrepancies, and for working down your practice’s existing accounts receivable. We recommend that every practice keep their existing software tools available until several months after your PCC online date.
Who Knows the Old Software Best?: Who at your practice will be the go-to for information about your previous system? As PCC designs your data conversion, we’ll be contacting you to ask questions about logging in, your customizations and other details about your previous system. Name your office’s previous system expert, whether that is a staff member or an IT professional.
Prepare For Data Verification: Your practice will need to schedule time and work-hours for verifying data conversions. We may do a series of data conversions and verifications, and you and your staff play a crucial role in making sure all data is brought over correctly. We can’t do it without you!
You Are the Communication Hub w/ Your Existing Vendor: All responsibilities for communicating with your existing vendor rests with you. Because PCC has no contract with your existing vendor, any questions or requests we make may be ignored. A three-way phone conference or e-mail thread with your old vendor’s IT support and PCC is a common and useful tool.
Inform Your Existing Vendor of Your Departure: As long as you have a paid contract with your existing vendor, they are obligated to provide you with service. For this reason, we always recommend being up-front and direct with your existing software vendor. If it is not possible to find or speak with a support person at your existing software vendor, PCC can sometimes use root access to your existing server to obtain your old data for you. However, it always works better if we can work with your existing vendor to understand your old software configuration.
Will You Get a Data Export From Your Previous Vendor?: If PCC can’t log into your old system, or we can’t effectively export data because of the software’s limitations, you may need to request a data export from your current vendor. The export may be expensive, and it may have to happen twice (once to build the data conversion scripts, and once to do the actual conversion). If you decide to order a data export from your previous vendor, PCC will help you create a specific list of the fields you want exported. Do not specify “all data” as vendors may skip important details, creating delays and additional expenses later.
Data Conversion Results: What Data Will We Get?
PCC knows that your practice’s transition will be much smoother if your new PCC system has as much useful data from your previous system as possible. Here’s a list of what we can usually convert, and what we don’t.
Data We Almost Always Convert
Your PCC data conversion will probably include the following records from your previous EHR or practice management system.
- Demographics: patients, families, family relationships, addresses and other demographic data
- Insurance policies and your insurance plan list
- Charge History, including diagnoses and CPTs
- Appointments, including past and future scheduled appointments
Data We Are Usually Able to Convert
Your PCC data conversion will probably also include the following, though the level of detail varies depending on your previous vendor.
- Patient and Family Notes, Flags, Etc.
- Patient Problem Lists, Allergies, Family History, Medical and Social History
- Immunization Records
- Visit Chart Notes
- Vitals and Diagnoses from Each Visit
- Phone Notes and Phone Messaging
- Scanned Documents
- Lab History (as text)
Data We Do Not Convert
PCC does not convert the following information from other vendor systems.
Account Balances: Outstanding balances are stored in a way that is too specific to your previous software vendor. We can not convert your accounts receivable, as the payment and adjustment history between the two systems would not match up. Keep your existing system operational until you have finished outstanding claims and personal balances.
Audit Logs: Your previous software system may track an audit log of which users viewed and edited data. User accounts can’t be brought over from your previous system, so the audit log can not be converted. If your practice wishes to preserve your audit logs, your may wish keep a backup of your old system or maintain a relationship with your existing vendor.