Health system data archiving strategy for migration to Epic

AltaMed, a 35-site healthcare system in Southern California, recently switched from its NextGen electronic health record to an Epic EHR, which left patient records in multiple systems.


The healthcare system wanted to deactivate NextGen in order to reduce the cost and complexity of setting up and running multiple systems, but it needed to keep these old records easily accessible to clinicians and the health information management team. health. AltaMed also had to comply with record retention requirements.

Migrating all data to Epic was neither feasible nor affordable. So staff considered their options and turned to archiving. They went to bid and chose a supplier.

“We started archiving our two NextGen data sources, which included ambulatory, dental and revenue cycle records,” said Emmet Jacobs, director of enterprise applications at AltaMed. “Unfortunately, the project did not go smoothly. During the implementation, we found many errors in the archived data.”

It also became apparent that the supplier could not handle the complexity of the dental records that required extraction and migration. AltaMed had dental images of odontograms to archive, which represented approximately 27 terabytes of unique data with special formatting that had to be preserved to ensure the color retention of the images. This detail is important for the dentist to see.

“If your organization has a growth plan in place, a strong archiving strategy can form a basis for future consolidation of legacy patient records and help simplify the EHR portfolio, making it easier for both IT teams and teams in contact with patients. “

Emmet Jacobs, AltaMed

“As the supplier was unable to deliver the scope of work, we were forced to shut down the project mid-term,” said Jacobs. “Our support agreement with NextGen was about to expire, resulting in a tight schedule to find a better solution. It was essential that we did not experience any problem with the accessibility of patient records for our clinical and HIM teams. “


AltaMed staff met with vendor team Harmony Healthcare IT and discussed the challenges they faced.

“They had a lot of experience with NextGen archiving, but had never done odontograms before,” Jacobs noted. “After some research, they said they were confident they could complete the project. Harmony Healthcare IT worked on unique image management on the service side and then customized its archive to store the complex dental components that were important to this project. “

The healthcare system has evaluated the product Harmony HealthData Archiver, which is the user interface for accessing consolidated legacy data. It met the needs of clinical and HIM teams to easily access historical patient records, so AltaMed moved forward with the supplier.

“The simplicity and intuitive nature of the HealthData Archiver interface really wowed our team and gave us the confidence we needed to move forward,” said Jacobs. “We knew we needed a tool that was easy to use while addressing all of the complexities of unique dental imaging. This solution gave us all of this and more.”


The first challenge was to get all the necessary NextGen recordings into the archives so that they could be stored securely and accessible. Harmony’s team of experts played a central role in bringing the collection together in an effective and efficient manner, Jacobs said.

“They knew we had no time to waste,” he said. “The day-to-day use of HeathData Archiver is primarily the responsibility of the clinical and HIM teams. It offers features such as clinical views, search / sort / filter and audit reports. feedback from user reviews has been positive. “

The healthcare system has opted for single sign-on integration from Epic.

“This seamlessly connects our clinical users to a patient’s historical medical record in HealthData Archiver from the same patient’s current medical record in Epic,” explained Jacobs. “With a single click, SSO recognizes and matches user identity behind the scenes. Users save time because they don’t have to log into another system and search for the patient again in the legacy data. Clinicians really like this. because it allows them to focus more on patient care. “

Overall, the Harmony Healthcare IT solution saved the AltaMed team a lot of headaches by getting them back on track when the previous vendor couldn’t meet their needs, he added.

“The Harmony team was competent and well staffed to manage the implementation,” he noted. “They met all of our data requirements, helped us reduce costs and strengthen cybersecurity defenses by consolidating information silos into a single platform secured by HITRUST. This saved our team a lot of frustration and allowed us to refocus our efforts on our # 1 priority: our patients. “


“The cost savings are significant,” Jacobs said. “We were able to decommission our old EHR and stop paying the monthly maintenance fees. Over time, archiving helps reduce costs. Data accuracy is obviously critical, and we went through a robust validation process on both sides to verify that patient data was accurate in the system.

“There was a period of training and implementation to ensure that the deployment of HealthData Archiver to end users went smoothly,” he continued. “Clinicians commented on how simple and intuitive the user interface was to use. In fact, some said it was easier to use than our previous EHR.”

In addition, clinical and HIM teams appreciate Epic’s single sign-on feature. The historical record is accessible directly in Epic and it saves them time.

“As an IT manager, I find that the continued satisfaction of users with new technology can often be measured by what I don’t hear about. So far, so good,” said Jacobs. “We have other existing systems in our portfolio to archive, so this is a longer term strategy for us. “


There is complexity any time you extract or migrate data to and from EHRs. When looking to simplify an EHR portfolio by archiving existing data, fully understand the data you are working with and make sure that all archiving vendors have the right expertise to manage that data, Jacobs advised.

“Make sure the proposal includes the full scope of work and that the deliverables are clearly defined,” he said. “You don’t want any surprises once you get started with the project. Sometimes the cheapest option can cost you money in the long run.

“Second,” he continued, “be sure to involve end-user subject matter experts in the project. Have them evaluate the user interface and participate in the validation. make it easier for them. “

Finally, assess the vendor from a security perspective and make sure they have the right metrics and resources, he advised. “We see all the headlines about healthcare cyber attacks in the news, so you’ll want to be sure your data is protected,” he said.

“If your organization has a growth plan in place, a strong archiving strategy can form a basis for future consolidation of legacy patient records and help simplify the EHR portfolio, making both IT teams easier and the teams in contact with patients, ”he concluded.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the author: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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