Validation is the most important step in data conversion. So why is it so often overlooked?

Converting to a new, consolidated Electronic Health Record system is a truly daunting project – it’s so complex and so fraught with risks. There are so many questions to ask, from what data should be converted to how it will be converted, from whether interfaces are needed to whether data will be entered manually and how much time and effort it will take. These are essential questions for a successful implementation, but the most important step often either missing or without adequate detail is – validation.

Validation is the process of verifying the data entered into the new system is accurate. Data accuracy not only means matching the source system, but that the data in the new system must be usable in the expected format. For example, if an organization is converting patient vitals (height, weight and blood pressure) it is crucial that the data in the new system not only matches the values but it has to be mapped accordingly to the correct table to be trended.

The correct validation process reviews a sampling of patient data and vitals on a sample date(s) for value matching and confirms, for instance, that the blood pressure values are displayed accurately over time. Another validation, for weight values for a child for example, might occur when ordering a new prescription –the system should accurately determine the historic weight value and specifics needed for dosing medications for children.

The correct validation program determines the specific validation criteria per data type to convert and the sample size. Initially, a small amount of data is tested and then validation is performed.  Once any validation issues are resolved, a larger sample size is tested. In very large conversions, a “full size” data conversion is completed to check validation, timing of conversion, and the go-live process.

So, how do you make sure you don’t overlook validation? It should be an integral part of every EHR implementation…

So, how do you make sure you don’t overlook validation? It should be an integral part of every EHR implementation, which starts with clearly identifying objectives and identifying risks. By employing a risk management framework, issues like validation are monitored and mitigated. At the same time, critical milestones and deliverables are determined to track and evaluate progress, while implementing a program structure helps the client, IT staff and vendors understand their responsibilities. Most importantly, validation criteria and the timing and methodology for each data element converted needs to be determined early, and the validation program adhered to throughout the project.

The experts at Brightwork Consulting specialize in Electronic Health Record implementation projects and data conversion. We understand how important each step is – including validation – and by combining best practices with project management methodologies, we have led some of the largest EHR initiatives in the industry.

by Lisa Alkin-Imhof