Data Abstraction & Conversion Best Practices for New Epic System Go Live (Part I)

The EHR market is set to grow to $39.7 billion by 2022. As patients and providers alike push for better access to data for informed care management and decision-making, healthcare organizations are making significant investments in their EHR systems for cohesive care coordination in the transition to value-based care.

If you are like many leading health IT professionals today, your organization has made a multi-million-dollar purchase of a new Epic EHR system. Now what? After months, and possibly years, of planning for your new Epic system, one of the biggest issues for IT end users has been the first Epic ambulatory visit with patients. Why? As with anything new, the system is a major change for your providers and staff. It will take time for them to learn the new system functionality and develop muscle memory to navigate through seamlessly.

One of the most important things you can do to improve the go-live process is to make sure key patient data is entered prior to both the go live and the first patient visit. Minimum key data points on each patient should include schedule visits, allergies, active medications, active problem list, immunizations and preferred pharmacy.

How can you smooth the new system adoption process?

In part I of this two-part blog series, consider the following three takeaways for EHR system data abstraction and conversion:

  1. Legacy system data cleanup
    12 months before your Epic go live, begin cleaning up the key data in your legacy system. Why so early? Many patients only visit their doctors once a year. By beginning the cleanup processes one year prior, you will have plenty of time to make sure the most accurate information is transferred into your new system. This is especially pertinent for the problem lists and medications. Doing so greatly speeds up data load into the new system and ensures with each subsequent visit that providers are addressing the active patient problems. Keep in mind though that if you have data in your legacy system that is no longer valid, this is your opportunity to start fresh.
  2. New Epic system patient data entry
    How much time does it take to enter the data into the new system? Depending on the complexity of your patient population, it can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes per patient to enter and validate a patient’s data into Epic for the first time. Remember, this is a new skill for your staff to learn, so it will likely take them longer at first to enter data as they learn the new system.
  3. Data pre-loading best practice
    How soon do I begin entering this data into Epic? The best practice is to pre-load your first 2-3 weeks of scheduled patients into Epic prior to go live. This allows your staff to have the patient data ready during the first few weeks of actual new system use. It also reduces stress on your staff, allowing them time to learn and adapt to the new system. Depending on the number of active patients and scheduled appointments, multiply the average of 5-10 minutes for best and worst-case proactive planning of time needed for data entry prior to the go-live date.

Check back for part II covering data conversion staffing solutions, CCD load and auditing.

Share Your Voice in the Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey

With less than one week until the HIMSS16 Annual Conference begins in Las Vegas, thousands of healthcare IT professionals are finishing up last minute conference preparation. Last year’s show had over 43,000 registered attendees, but that’s not the only figure that stood out. Our HIT Annual Survey conducted at the conference showed noteworthy results regarding industry barriers related to healthcare data analytics.

Completed by project managers, CIOs, IT directors and consultants, last year’s survey revealed that most (51 percent) showed confusion toward what and how much healthcare data to actually collect in data analytics initiatives. A majority (34 percent) also felt that the lack of buy-in across their healthcare organizations was the largest barrier to IT initiatives, including data analytics and achieving meaningful use. The full results from 2015 can be found here.

This year for HIMSS16, we’re excited to gain industry insights again by launching the Fourth Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey. This year’s survey presents six questions focusing on healthcare leaders’ top initiatives and concerns for the remainder of 2016. By participating, individuals can enter into drawings for $200 Amazon gift cards. Survey responses will remain anonymous.

Can’t attend HIMSS16 or want to participate in advanced? Not to worry! Take the quick survey here.

Amazon Gift 2016 Outlook Survey

As always, for those headed to Vegas, stop by Stoltenberg’s booth #3621 for prizes, refreshments, meet ups with our executives, and survey live visual results. Plus, help us celebrate our 20 years as strategic health IT advisors on social media with the hashtag #20inHIT.

See you in Vegas!

Warm Wishes From Stoltenberg

Our office is in the holiday spirit.

During the holiday season it’s only fitting to be grateful for your blessings. Therefore, we’d like to take this time to say how happy and proud we are to serve our top-notch clients. Not only that, but we thank our consultants for their expertise and dedication across the nation as well. Wishing a safe and warm holiday to all!

Check out our holiday greeting below:

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Recap of South Florida HIMSS Health Trade Fair


If you didn’t attend the South Florida HIMSS event last week, you missed an amazing CIO roundtable discussion with the opportunity to learn the latest trends from powerhouse CIOs like Miami Children’s SVP & CIO Ed Martinez. Martinez discussed how he’s helping to transform healthcare delivery to children all over the world through Telemedicine. He is working with a vendor that enables a patient to be examined via a device that looks like a hand. The device touches the patient and sends data back to the physician. Though it sounds like sci-fi, this is an incredible advancement in HIT. What are your thoughts?


Martinez believes that the CIO’s role of the future is part visionary, part business leader, and part CIO. His thoughts were expanded by Leslie Albright, CIO of Bethesda Health, Inc. Albright explained that in the past, IT came up with a business plan and submitted it to administration as a stand-alone plan. Then, it had little to do with direct patient care. Today however, the IT plan incorporates into the corporate strategy of the hospital, aligning IT’s strategy with the business strategy. Albright also stated she prefers to hire clinically savvy employees, who she can train to understand IT. This shows a paradigm shift as IT decisions become more clinically based as opposed to process based.

Also within the event, moderator, Mary Carroll Ford, senior VP & CIO of Lakeland Regional Medical Center, asked the panel, “What keeps you up at night?”  The roundtable panel responded with the topics of ICD-10, business intelligence, data warehousing, e-health, tele-health and construction. Panel members also all agreed that supporting medicine today is moving away from the traditional 9-5, Mon-Fri controlled world they all lived in for so long.  The new model is not about supporting the hardware anymore. Systems and servers are stable and rarely crash.  The new model has to include support, for not only after-hours, but also for new technology. Such new technology is being pushed as patients download apps, scan  barcodes on medicine as post visit records, and view test results on smart phones, tablets and iPads. In the past, IT used to be able to limit the devices used.  This is a new age, and anything goes to affect patient experience. And yet again, the South Florida HIMSS panel agreed that this all gathers to keep them up at night to figure out how to support it all.


Finally, as a note on Stoltenberg’s part in the event, the SCI crew served as a Silver Sponsor and Exhibitor of the South Florida event. Vice President Shane Pilcher also enlightened groups with the presentations “Big Data – Fact or Fiction” and “Help-Desk –A Help Desk That Really Helps.”

In all, the event provided a great venue for thought leadership exchange for South Florida healthcare IT industry participants, as well as a chance to reflect on the progress of the industry as a whole.

Reflecting on the Today’s Value of HIT to Celebrate NHIT Week


As we renew the excitement of the 2013 National Health IT Week, members of the Stoltenberg Consulting team have joined together to ponder the value of HIT from the small scale of a personal physician’s appointment, to a wide view of the impact on nationwide healthcare progress.

“While National Health IT week continues, I think about the value of HIT and think back to the beginning of my career in HIT.  At that time there was not the focus on HIT that there is today, but we entered the marketplace with many of the same ideas and values that are being discussed today. As an RN, patient care and patient safety and quality of care have always been at the center. Today, as I consider the value of HIT, I look far beyond where I was once focused. Today, I think of improving quality, safety and efficiency of the system as a whole. We have the ability to use data in ways that where not possible just a few years ago. Today, I see a much bigger picture and a much closer future, in which HIT is a leader and driving force behind the changes and advances in healthcare as we move forward.”

-Daniel O’Connor, Vice President of Client Relations

“Healthcare IT (HIT) is helping to shape the healthcare landscape of today and of the future. Better outcomes and decreased costs is the mantra for healthcare today. HIT is the enabler for both of those mantras. Through the digitization of healthcare data, organizations now have the ability to aggregate that data with patient’s billing data and care outcomes allowing organizations to track costs and outcomes at the micro level.  This linking of data enables an organization to identify methods to decrease the cost of care while elevating the outcomes. This same healthcare data also enables an organization to track trends in population health. By using data and predictive analysis, healthcare organizations can become proactive in delivering healthcare allowing today’s landscape to evolve and continue to provide the greatest healthcare in the world.”

-Shane Pilcher, Vice President

“As a 25-year healthcare IT veteran,  I am happy to have personally witnessed the progress we have made in the maturity of EMRs over the past decades. I saw the direct impact in my own life when I recently went to a specialist physician’s office. In my appointment, my physician was able to electronically look up my medial history, confirm my medications, and confirm if this might have a contributing factor toward my condition. Much to my amazement, through electronic medical records, we were able to confirm some lab results from my primary physician,  which resulted in avoiding retesting, as well as direct time and money savings. It had me feeling that much of my career as a change agent has paid off!”

-Mike Meyer, Vice President of Strategic Accounts

“We hear a lot about reducing costs through health information technology, but the main value is improving quality of care for our patients.  Health Information Technology is a key proponent driving that change.  With the valued goal of increased quality care to our patients, other benefits are trickling down to organizations whom have adopted health information technology every day.”

-Mike Gielata, Director of Strategic Accounts

“As healthcare IT professionals we often forget about the benefit we provide to a patient’s care or outcome, because our “patient touch” is not often felt by the patient in a direct manner. Our passion for healthcare and IT makes us some of the most uniquely qualified people in the world. Never forget that what you do every day impacts someone who is hurt/sick, injured, recovering, or dying as well as their family.

CELEBRATE! You have the privilege of experiencing an important point in history, akin to the impact the Industrial Revolution had on America back in early 19th century. Will future scholars call it the “Healthcare Revolution” or the “Meaningful Use Revolution?” I don’t know, but I’m proud to be a part of it.

NHIT week was brought about by a proclamation by President Obama in 2011. President Obama stated, ‘Everyone can play a role in improving our health care system.’  As a healthcare IT professional, you’re in the trenches.”

 -Paula Ehmer, Director, Strategic Accounts

To read more about the President’s Proclamation visit

To learn ways to join the NHIT week social media endeavors, visit Finally, check out the agenda of activities for the rest of this week at

Now that we’ve considered our thoughts on the value of HIT, take the time to think about yours and engage with others during this exciting week. Thanks for all you do to personally impact HIT and happy NHIT Week 2013!

Gearing up for NHIT Week

As an official corporate partner of NHIT Week 2013, we are gearing up for the excitement and awareness of the importance and impact of healthcare IT in today’s world. As such, we’d like to share the many ways you too can become involved in NHIT Week!

1.       Change your profile image. In social media efforts, join the support towards the value of health IT by changing profile pictures during National Health IT Week. Download the image.


2.       Crowdsource the Health IT Value. An official #HITsm chat room makes conversation easy and centralized. Get more details on crowdsourcing here.

3.        Engage with  NHIT Partners. Several Health IT  events occur throughout NHIT Week, many of them are outside of the Capitol area, including:

a.       Transforming Clinical Image Access and Distribution – New York, NY
b.      Better Health: Everyone’s Responsibility – Hartford, CT
c.       Kentucky eHealth Summit – Bowling Green, KY
d.      Summit of the Southeast – Nashville, TN
e.      Ignite Health – Portland, OR

Check out ONC’s new website with events focused on NHIT Week, and View all NHIT Week activities here.

Plus, remember to check out the complete NHIT Week Toolkit.

Week look forward to all of the great buzz and conversation surrounding HIT next week.


Breaking Down How the HIMSS Workforce Survey Reflects the HIT Industry: Part II

Part II

As we revisit the release of the HIMSS Workforce Survey, VP of Client Relations Dan O’Connor adds to last week’s comments:


Continuing feedback regarding the HIMSS Analytics Workforce Survey, let’s discuss hiring or outsourcing. This is is always a topic that gets a lot of discussion and often has people taking sides. Yet, in today’s ever-changing environment, we may need to look at outsourcing in different ways than in the past.  It is not always easier or less expensive to keep all IT internal. We must look at each situation and apply a set of principles to evaluate staffing and outsourcing.  Each organization should develop a key set of principles to use, but they should include such items as the type of skills, the length of the project or initiative, future projects, and the ability of staff to adapt or learn new skills.  Another critical factor is the make up of the organization. Are they moving as many or to a more centralized system that uses many of the same skills throughout? This may be a situation in which outsourcing is used to support legacy systems that are being replaced by integrated solutions.


Making the Right IT Hire

 How do you make the right IT hire? This is difficult question with today’s ever-changing market and a workforce that is increasingly more technical.  In a market that has a shortage of qualified people, how do we hire the right people to keep our organizations moving forward and projects on time?  Identify key skills and traits that fit with your organization and then look at creative ways to find qualified people.  Look to colleges and university for more technical roles, and use internships to evaluate potential staff before they hit the job market.  For roles that are more application-specific, look to subject areas to supplement. Make sure these individuals fit well with the dynamic of the current team, and consider supplementing these areas with contract employees to fill gaps and help with training and development of subject area staff.

The next wave of healthcare IT professionals are younger with less experience, but with a high desire to learn, they and very motived by salary and benefit plans.  They are much less apt to feel attached to an organization changing firms / organizations frequently. Many are looking for their next opportunity 18 months after starting a new position.  This presents a completely different set of issues for all sectors of HIT.  Staff/employees that have a strong affiliation to an organization are becoming harder to find and a challenge to keep.  This is not all bad though. The right mix of the new generation and older can be very productive and create an environment where learning and sharing of ideas (both new and old) make for very productive projects and teams. The key is creating cohesive teams. A good “fit” is as important as the skill mix of the team.

As the market place continues to grow and mature, organizations that are not afraid to change and adapt and will survive and excel in this environment.  Many HIT organizations are slow to change or adopt new technology, tending to be less on the cutting edge than other industries. Yet, with the current challenges facing the healthcare IT workforce, organizations that are lean and adapt quickly will reap the benefits of this ever-changing marketplace.