New solutions address EMR conversion issues

November 12, 2003

The process of converting to an electronic medical record system can be confusing, cumbersome, and costly, in terms of both the costs related to replacing existing systems and the time spent training personnel in the new software. But two new

The process of converting to an electronic medical record system can be confusing, cumbersome, and costly, in terms of both the costs related to replacing existing systems and the time spent training personnel in the new software. But two new conversion tools may ease the transition.

One addresses the notion that moving medical records to a distributed digital system requires replacing existing systems.

"One key problem with earlier efforts to create digital medical records was the interoperability issue," said Nicolas Richards, CEO of MedAbiliti Software.

Most vendors advocate throwing everything out and starting over with their product, discarding earlier investments, he said.

Richards claims that MedAbiliti has solved the interoperability issue. With its MDMR (MedAbiliti distributed medical record) solution, users can keep what they already have if it works for them and just add new components as necessary.

According to Richards, MDMR technology collects existing medical data from healthcare information systems and converts those data into XML (Extensible Markup Language). It also provides tools and a user interface to integrate and apply security and privacy policies to the data, down to individual data fields.

The result is a repository of XML data on an MDMR server that enables authorized users such as caregivers, payers, and patients to easily retrieve patient information residing in multiple data storage sites on a virtual central data mode.

The work of translating old data formats into XML is done by MDMR, yielding a completely integrated system that securely delivers medical data on the Web.

The front-end systems that users are familiar with can remain the same while changes are made on the back end to allow interoperability, Richards said.

Another new offering collects various forms of healthcare information and stores it electronically without the expense of converting entire paper medical record backfiles.

With Iron Mountain's Image-On-Demand services, patient medical records can quickly be converted to EMR to streamline the records management process and avoid conversion of the entire paper medical record backfiles.

The system receives a request for an archived medical record, scans and indexes the paper record, and then transmits the digitized images.