Managing the Conversion to a New Practice Management System

Lea Chatham February 11th, 2013

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How to Change Your Medical Billing Software

Have  you been thinking about changing practice management systems? Is fear of the conversion holding you back? You aren’t alone. Past surveys on data migration have suggested that most people’s experience with conversion has been negative. Often, projects cost more and take longer than expected. Even worse, conversions can fail. Luckily, the same studies suggest that success is highly contingent on planning, engagement, and making good choices at the outset.

Your practice management system is the financial ethos of your business so you want to do what you can to maintain as much data as possible. You also want to make sure that your new system is implemented and deployed correctly so you can maximize your new tools.

You may have more data in your system than you think. In addition to patient demographics and financial information, you probably have claim data and insurance carriers, referring provider files, CPT and ICD codes, and more. Your practice management system is essentially a big database that is full of information, and you need to understand how it is setup.

Then, you need to ask yourself and your software vendor if and how you will convert this data. These questions should help you with that conversation:

  • Should you take the data that you have in your existing system and electronically convert it to the new system?
  • What are the upfront costs of converting? (you will need to ask both your old vendor and new vendor this)
  • Is the data even convertible? What types of data can you convert?
  • And if so, what will it look like once the conversion is made?
  • How long will the conversion take?
  • Will you have the ability to run duplicate systems (the old system side by side with the new one) and for how long?
  • Will you be able to test the converted data first before you go live?
  • Have you converted anyone else from (your old vendor)?

The older the existing system is, the more complicated the conversion may be. Your database type may not be easily convertible. You might have so much out-of-date, inaccurate, and duplicate data that it makes more sense to start from scratch with your new system. It could also make more sense to bring over only certain types of data such as patient demographics or financial data.

Go into this process with an open mind. You have to be realistic about what is possible depending on your unique situation. As a small practice, your resources are limited. Time and cost will be a factor. Generally, the more you pay for conversion, the more data that can be converted. But remember that the age and type of system can affect the transfer, and it is rare to get a full line item accurate data conversion from one system to another. So it might not make sense to pay more when the data might not come across the way you want it to.

For more information on how to choose a new practice management and how to manage your conversion, download Kareo’s latest white paper, How to Change Your Medical Billing Software: From Choosing a System to Data Conversion.

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