Considerations When Migrating Patient’s Preferred Pharmacies and PCP’s

Considerations When Migrating Patient’s Preferred Pharmacies and PCP’s


This entry is part of our data migration blog series – a range of topics intended to help organizations who are migrating from one EHR to another.

EMR Data Migration

One particular area that is often overlooked in the process of an EHR data migration is the necessity of migrating PCP’s and patients’ preferred pharmacies. I have been in multiple projects where we get into the later rounds of testing and end-users almost always seem to ask about preferred pharmacies and PCP’s.

Some questions end-users often ask:

  • Will we need to re-enter all of our patients’ PCP’s and preferred pharmacies?
  • What if we get a call for an Rx renewal and do not have their preferred pharmacy?
  • Who will be responsible to get the correct information and enter it into the new EHR?

These are just small sampling of the many questions end-users have but it always prompts the question of whether or not we can migrate this information before they go-live in their new EHR system.  Even though they are not in the original scope, clients often ask to add them to the project but there are many things to consider before you think it will be quick and simple.

  • Are you going live with an EHR that is already in use, or is it a new implementation?
    • It is important to consider because if the EHR is already in use, there is a high likelihood some of this information may already exist and it may be more accurate than that may be migrated.
  • Who and how will you generate import files to load?
  • How does your target EHR process files to update this information (if it allows it at all)?
  • What are some of the consequences from not migrating these details?
  • What is the effort to do this manually and does the cost of migrating it outweigh the manual costs?

Other Considerations

If you are converting into an existing EHR environment you will need to consider that the patient may already have a PCP or preferred pharmacy on their chart.   Typically, the best approach is to only load a PCP if there isn’t one listed in the new EHR.  You can figure this out by pulling an extract from the legacy EHR to generate a list of patients that have a PCP listed and compare it against a patient extract from the new target EHR. More often than not, data migrations will be occurring for new EHR implementations and this will not be an issue.  However, in the case of an existing EHR environment you will need to understand that doing a comparison of PCP’s will be the most time consuming part of the entire process if you decide to go that route.

Patients’ preferred pharmacy can be difficult depending on how they are documented in the source system.  If there is an identifier in the source system, most commonly the NCPDP #, that can be used for mapping, that usually works best as it will minimize the time spent on manually mapping based on pharmacy name and location.

Also, due to the high number of pharmacies in the United States, it is challenging to efficiently pull a pharmacy extract out of any EHR system.  You will have to perform multiple extracts; an easy way is to pull extracts by state starting with the closest first.  In regards to the pharmacy migration this is the step that will take the most time.

In the same light as my previous blog article, Migrating EHR Problem History Data (Non-Discrete vs Discrete), migrating PCPs and patients preferred pharmacies are usually far down in the list of considerations when an organization is preparing for a EHR change. However, if your organization is willing to put in the time and effort to include them in your process you will find that the efficiencies gained are worth it for your end-users and Providers.

If you would like to learn more about data migrations and problem history considerations, download our whitepaper or visit our wiki.

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