Transitions from One Electronic Health Record to Another: Challenges, Pitfalls, and Recommendations

Appl Clin Inform. 2020 Oct;11(5):742-754. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1718535. Epub 2020 Nov 11.


Objective: We address the challenges of transitioning from one electronic health record (EHR) to another-a near ubiquitous phenomenon in health care. We offer mitigating strategies to reduce unintended consequences, maximize patient safety, and enhance health care delivery.

Methods: We searched PubMed and other sources to identify articles describing EHR-to-EHR transitions. We combined these references with the authors' extensive experience to construct a conceptual schema and to offer recommendations to facilitate transitions.

Results: Our PubMed query retrieved 1,351 citations: 43 were relevant for full paper review and 18 met the inclusion criterion of focus on EHR-to-EHR transitions. An additional PubMed search yielded 1,014 citations, for which we reviewed 74 full papers and included 5. We supplemented with additional citations for a total of 70 cited. We distinguished 10 domains in the literature that overlap yet present unique and salient opportunities for successful transitions and for problem mitigation.

Discussion: There is scant literature concerning EHR-to-EHR transitions. Identified challenges include financial burdens, personnel resources, patient safety threats from limited access to legacy records, data integrity during migration, cybersecurity, and semantic interoperability. Transition teams must overcome inadequate human infrastructure, technical challenges, security gaps, unrealistic providers' expectations, workflow changes, and insufficient training and support-all factors affecting potential clinician burnout.

Conclusion: EHR transitions are remarkably expensive, laborious, personnel devouring, and time consuming. The paucity of references in comparison to the topic's salience reinforces the necessity for this type of review and analysis. Prudent planning may streamline EHR transitions and reduce expenses. Mitigating strategies, such as preservation of legacy data, managing expectations, and hiring short-term specialty consultants can overcome some of the greatest hurdles. A new medical subject headings (MeSH) term for EHR transitions would facilitate further research on this topic.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • PubMed
  • Workflow

Grant support

Funding None.