So, your clinic has decided to make the move to an EHR system. And, you’ve even chosen the kind of EHR system you want, and the vendor.
One afternoon, you stare at the mountains of paper charts with glee…after all, they’ll soon be gone. When suddenly, it hits you.
How are you going to get all those thousands of thick patient files into your EHR system?
You’ve just stumbled onto an often-missed step in the EHR transition. Preloading.
Although the thought of going to a paperless clinic or practice may sound divine, getting to that point takes work. All the relavent data in every one of your patient files has to be input into your EHR system by your team before GoLive. This is called the Preloading Process.
Preloading has several benefits.
First, it means your staff won’t have to extend the bridge between paper files and electronic files. When all the files are preloaded before GoLive, you can all make a clean break from paper. And that’s a good thing!
Preloading also means your staff won’t have to waste time during an office visit entering file information bit by bit. When it’s all done beforehand, workflow is much more efficient.
The thought of Preloading all those thousands of files can be demoralizing and tedious. After all, building the Great Wall of China sounds funner, right?
This is why it’s so important to communicate the benefits to your staff, who will be responsible for this large job. Not only are they helping keep patients safer, they’re also helping the clinic run more efficiently, and gaining some important early training to boot.
Because the task of Preloading is so tedious, and often thankless, you might want to throw them a great party once they’re done.
What to Preload
Here’s some good news: there aren’t any rules on how much patient history you need to preload. And, you don’t have to preload every file from every patient who’s ever set foot through the front door.
1. Start with Active Patients
Start by Preloading all the patients who have been in your clinic the past 18-24 months, those who have an appointment in the first month of two of GoLive, and those who are seen regularly by your staff.
2. Items to Load
So, what should you be loading from each file?
- All active data, including problems, conditions, and diagnoses, medications, allergies, relevant family and life history, procedures and treatments, etc.
- Recent test and lab results, immunizations, and most recent vitals.
- If it’s a pediatric patient, load it all including all immunizations, heights, weights, and physical data (for patients under three).
- You’ll also want to review the Meaningful Use criteria to make sure you’re covering all the bases here.
3. Get Scanning
So, what do you do with all those valuable hand-written visit notes and consults? Hand-typing this information, for every patient, would take months.
This is when you get scanning.
The great thing about scanning is that once a patient’s record is scanned in, you can store it offsite. However, scanning takes time and effort. Plus, the information isn’t coded, so unless you enter descriptive information about the document, and then link it with that patient file. Yeah, it’s time consuming!
Is Preloading Worth It?
Without a doubt, this answer is yes. Preloading seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb at first. And, some clinics, to avoid it, enter patient information piece by piece as they walk in the door. However, Preloading allows your staff to get familiar with the system earlier on, and will help improve workflow after GoLive takes place.