Data Conversion Scope Best Practice

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Dec 04, 2019

Data Conversion Scope Best Practice

Written by Impact Advisors

Category: Legacy Data Management

All EHR implementations have a very crucial component: the historical data conversion of the legacy system. Data conversions play an important role in the transition from the legacy system to the new system by providing continuity of care for patients, patient safety and helping drive utilization of the new EMR.

When planning your conversion, some of the key scoping questions that need to be considered are:

  • How much information is there to convert?
  • What systems should we convert?
  • Who will support this process?
  • Who will extract, load and validate the data?

Depending on the answers to the questions above, the level of effort needed to facilitate a data conversion can range from manageable to quite expansive.

Every organization I have worked with is looking for a “cookie-cutter” scope; unfortunately, that doesn’t exist. Just like each organization has its own set of unique needs regarding the EMR – based on the market, patient demographics, etc. – a historical data conversion’s scope also can vary. Scope solely depends on the organization’s needs. That being said, we can take a few steps in order to start defining the scope for the organization.

What can be planned is the process of HOW the data conversion scope can be defined and validated.

Scope by Committee

The decision on what gets converted should never solely be an IT task. In fact, it should be a team effort between IT and operations. Setting this up during the pre-planning phase is extremely critical. The membership of this committee plays a monumental role in scoping the conversions. This committee should be led by the CMIO (Chair), HIM leadership (Co-Chair) and leadership from various operational areas such as Laboratory, Radiology, Revenue Cycle, Acute/Ambulatory Physician Champions, and Legal/Compliance. These individuals play integral roles in deciding what is going to get converted into the new EMR.


EMR vendors typically make some recommendations based on their experiences. However, even those recommendations can change from organization to organization. One of the approaches that really helps is to have some essential conversations/recommendations before you have the official kick-off of the conversion committee. This is where the CMIO, HIM, and IT leadership should collaborate, review, and recommend a scope for evaluation. You must keep in mind that the larger the scope, the larger the build/validation effort will be from the various teams. So, it’s a fine balance to ensure what is being scoped makes sense for your organization.

Convert vs. Archive

Keep in mind that the primary focus of data conversions is to be able to provide patient care in the new EMR and be able to do it safely. It also helps with the provider experience in the new system. All “regulatory” or “compliance” requirements around data that needs to be migrated should be considered as part of your archival strategy, with conversion being the go-live strategy and archival being the long-term strategy for the organization.

These three simple steps above can help drive the definition of conversion scope for an EMR implementation. They will also help align the right resources to set the tone for the conversion aspect of the program and eliminate confusion down the line.