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Data Conversion for your medical practice

Two Practices Show Versatility of the HorizonMIS™ Capability

A major concern of many practices when they consider switching to a new computer system is data conversion. Is it possible to salvage data from their old systems to "jump start" productivity on the new one?

Two very different Horizon clients -- Children's Medical Group in Jacksonville, Florida and Laboratory Billing in Saco, Maine -- demonstrate that it's not only possible to retrieve data from old systems, but that the conversion is customized depending on the needs of the client.

Furthermore, Horizon Dealers can convert data WITHOUT cooperation from the prior vendor.

"We have four separate offices and LOTS of transactions," said Ginger Howard, Practice Manager for Children's Medical Group. "Just a year ago we went through the headaches of manually entering all our data (when we went on the previous PCN / Versys system) ... so when we upgraded to Horizon, one of our requirements was electronic data conversion to keep us from having to go through all that again!"

Children's Medical did a full conversion of data, including patient history. While they were at it, they also took the opportunity to re-structure their data by splitting one combined data set into four separate ones. "It better suited the way we manage our business," she said.

Laboratory Billing, a billing service running Horizon, had different needs when they acquired a very large Family Practice as a new client. To keep responsibilities separate as of the time they began work for the client, they initially only converted demographics to Horizon from the practice's old PCN / Versys system. All new transactions were entered in the new Horizon system at the billing service, and the old PCN system was kept running on the side to work out old balances.

After a while, however, they decided it would be better to totally eliminate the PCN system. "We had a large volume of receivables that we weren't prepared to write off," said Office Manager Karen Waycot. "As a result, we went through a second conversion to transfer the detail on remaining open items to Horizon in a separate data set. With multi-sessioning, the old accounts were much easier to access ... and Horizon's automated collections features made them much easier to process."

The billing service realized an added benefit when the data was "cleaned up" during the process. "Under Horizon, the charge and payment detail on open items is much more readable and easy to understand (than under the previous system)," said Waycot. " That makes a big difference in how fast and accurately we can work."

Kathryn Bortz, Horizon's General Manager, explained that both of these conversions were completed with absolutely no assistance from the prior vendor.

"It's understandable that other software vendors are reluctant to assist their clients in switching to Horizon. For years we've converted data from Medic, Medical Manager, PCN, Versys, and numerous other systems WITHOUT assistance. We don't want to give away any trade secrets, but it's not a problem."

Bortz also pointed out that these examples demonstrate why a data conversion must be "hands on".

"First of all, clients want different things. Even though these two clients switched from the same previous system (PCN / Versys), their data needs were different.

"More important, however, our job extends beyond just the mechanical process of pulling data from one field and putting it in another. We have to look for consistency, duplicates, compatibility, and improvements in their data. The entire process can be very complex.

"That's why it's a cost / benefit tradeoff. As in any business decision, our clients have to weigh the advantages against the cost. Conversions do take considerable time and the cost depends on the complexity of the data desired."

Over 50% of new Horizon clients elect not to convert data electronically. Instead they choose to start with a clean slate. Most of these keep their old systems operational for a 90- to 180-day transitional period so they can refile old claims and send statements to accounts with old balances. Any remaining accounts are then usually written off and sent to collections.

Around 80% of the new Horizon clients who do convert data elect to transfer demographic information only.

Bortz concluded, "The good thing to know is that data conversion -- if needed -- is definitely available. We're happy to discuss the pros and cons, pricing and options with any prospect."