Data Transfer

by Larry Emmott on July 27, 2007

in General

Data transfer: There are two basic issues with data transfer, how much data do you need and how will you input it to the new system? You can transfer most critical data from one system to another electronically.  However it is unlikely you will be able to transfer all the information such as old notes, schedules or recall information. But that’s OK.

The minimum you should transfer is patient census information. That is, names, family relationships, addresses, phone numbers, social security, insurance etc. If you can get that the next items to transfer electronically are patient balances, aged if possible. If you can get those items you will be doing well. Other data that you may want to transfer is insurance plans, information, addresses and plan features. Electronic data transfer is fast and will save a lot of time and money in data entry. However there are some potential problems as well.

If you do an electronic data transfer watch out for dirty data. After a while virtually every office develops dirty data, that is information that is out of date, redundant or lust plain wrong. For example, a patient who has moved to Australia, wrong spellings or insurance companies entered multiple times. You can handle dirty data in several ways. One is just to ignore it and transfer it anyway. Better yet run print outs of all the data you wish to transfer then go over it all and note incorrect or redundant information. Then go back in and delete all the dirty data from the old system before making the transfer. This will give you cleaner data but it takes a lot of time, hands on keyboards and therefore money. The third option is not to do an electronic transfer but start with a whole new set of data.

The next idea is really simple but people often miss it. There is no need to trash the old system once the new one is in place. Keep it up and running. That does not mean you do dual entry and try and use both systems simultaneously, that’s a sure recipe for disaster. Set a day to “go live” with the new system and just do it. Keep the old system available for looking up old information, like last year’s treatment or what the insurance paid six months ago. That’s why you don’t need to transfer every piece of old data, you can always access it from the old system. You will find the need to look up information in the old system will quickly pass and you will rarely access it after a few months. None the less it is there as an archive.

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