Impact Insights

Epic Importing: Some Helpful Guidelines

Edwin Mack

What do you do if you have to load a substantial number of records or data at one time into Epic? This can be accomplished by an “Import” (by using an Import utility within Epic). In an import, you as the importer must lay out data in a precise format to be loaded into a master file (table) or category list (constants). By precise, you must understand exactly what your import creates (new record) or is overwriting (existing data). Although the import utility will do some basic error checking, beyond that, the import utility will create or replace whatever record or data within the record(s) your import specifies.

As you know, there is nothing more satisfying, or relieving, than when an import went in successfully; not only without errors, but without affecting something you weren’t intending to. Believe me, there is nothing more heart stopping then finding it’s the latter.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • I like to pull my data from a Production environment where your data will be more accurate (non-production data can be manipulated by others to create a false-positive).
  • Pull enough information to identify the record(s); this is important when you have others analyze and approve your import.
  • Additionally, pull only the data you are adding or changing. Some like to do Jxports (Epic utility that pulls the entire table to an Excel format). I like the choice of setting some criteria of what data I am looking for. This can be done by creating a Chronicles query (Chronicles being the proprietary database within Epic).
  • Before importing, try identifying who you may impact, solicit approval, and have them verify your changes for impact.
  • Always test your import in a non-production environment.
  • Have a back-out import ready to put things back to the original state.

Although you can’t always account for everything, following these steps greatly reduces issues.

One more safety measure could be creating a mini-approval process. This way your change is not in a vacuum and everyone is aware. As Epic has many components of master files and category list that are shared amongst others, an organized approach is best. It may take a bit more time, but it’s a good standard to follow, however large or small your import. Having individuals/representatives who understand how your changes will impact them is important not only for them but for you as well.  There have been many times where the importer’s focus is directed to his/her own goal and may not be aware of some downstream repercussions. Those whom you affect can enlighten you or you can cooperate and find an amiable solution. The ideal outcome is that no one is caught off guard; enlist those individuals to validate and if need be they can communicate impact to their users.

In analyzing records and data, Microsoft Excel is the application of choice for sorting and filtering your data. You will need some tools and functions in Excel when manipulating relational master files and category lists. Epic master files link to other master files and/or category lists usually by an ID (or unique identifier); in Epic speak this is called, “Networked.” To verify and analyze your import, you’ll want to join them together for analysis. You can use VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP (Excel functions) in Excel, but here is a great tool called DIGDB.  It’s an Excel add-on in which you can point and click your way through joining worksheets of data that are related to each other by multiple identifiers. It can also sort, filter duplicates, and fill-in, along with many more functions.

An import can save you a lot of time when you have numerous records of data to create or change, but you have to do the work up front. As in any change of a record(s) or data in a database, success is measured in your understanding of the exact outcome. The more certain you are, the greater chance you import will do exactly what is intended.

4 thoughts on “Epic Importing: Some Helpful Guidelines

  1. Lorraine Wall says:

    With insurance moving to electronic insurance cards, is there a way to take a picture of a patients phone with their electronic card and then have the ability to file it to a table?

  2. Edwin Mack Edwin Mack says:

    As we all know, data is only as good as the person who gives it, who captures it, and how uptodate it is. With scanning you are taking an image, you would not want an image to over-write in this case an alphanumeric field. There is data on magnetic strips that can be read, and if in a standard format can be parsed out and written to a file. But it goes back to my first sentence. Today it’s always best to verify with the patient and update as needed. Hope that helps. Thanks for posting.

  3. Randi says:

    we are looking to have our faxes (DME and homeware prescriptions) go securely to email so that we can sign and securely return to the vendor. Is there a way to upload these signed documents (in a secure fashion) to EPIC?

  4. Edwin Mack Edwin Mack says:

    Believe it or not, Faxing is considered more secure then emailing. Emails can be hacked, faxes are just analog signals going over Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and to pirate faxes would mean someone would have to tap into your phone line.
    But to answer your question, the answer is no at this time. Epic has CareEveryWhere functionality with Direct Addressing but that is more geared for Summary of Care reports and other Epic installations. But here is a possible faxing solution. You can scan the signed DME order to the patients chart, it should then show up in the Media tab. Open that scan from the Media, choose “Route”, there you can enter in the fax# of the vendor. You can also have the vendor information stored into Epic by creating a resource record (SER) for the vendor as well (check with your Epic Security folks for that).

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