< Intro: Migrating Practice Management Software Successfully

This is Part 1 of the “Migrating Practice Management Software Successfully” series. See all articles in the series here.

Part 1: Planning Your PMS Migration – First Steps

Before you begin transferring data, take some time to determine exactly what data to transfer and what systems it affects.


Have you developed a map of the data types to be migrated?

Invariably when migrating PMS, most practices start with the concept that the new PMS must do and have everything exactly (workflows & data) as the old one did. My experience has been that while this thinking remains, a successful migration is doomed as it is impossible to achieve a 100% perfect migration and expect that everything old will be available in the new. Successful practice data migrations have only occurred when sticking to the basics by migrating their:

  • Current and past users into the new PMS (Past users are required so that that closed clients can be assigned in the new PMS to their actual Case Manager for accurate record keeping. Alternatively, a single placeholder user in the new PMS can be assigned all of the closed clients).
  • Sites (Locations). (Data for currently active and past site operated by the business must be imported to the new PMS so that clients, active and closed, can have their past appointments linked with the sites that services were provided in the past, even if they are no longer in use.)
  • Service Types and stockable items – import only the ones currently in use as I recommend you do not import historical invoicing data into the new PMS (more about this later).
  • Client details (Including a link to the Case Manager and the client’s primary site for service)
  • Referrers and their clinics – Active referrals should be manually transferred to ensure that they are linked correctly

Before beginning your data migration project, develop a map of the data in the old PMS. Your map should include where your data and dependencies are, whether data will be exported (or not) and whether the data will be imported into the new PMS or perhaps allocated to an external archive device.

NOTE: Remember to check with all team members even the contractors regarding required data that may currently be stored external to the old PMS but using references such as identifiers that only exist in the old PMS. An example of this is locally stored images for a client on a network drive, and the file name used for the image is the client ID from the old PMS, these will be useless unless the old client ID is also imported into the new PMS and easily referenced for future use.


Have you checked your network for any obstacles to data transfer?

  • Is the data encrypted, password protected in any way?
  • If you’re transferring data over a network, it’s important to have the most bandwidth you can.
  • Check for firewalls that might delay data transfer.
  • Consider transferring data when there are fewer users — or even better, no users — online.
  • Schedule data migration for after hours if possible.


Have you done a landscape analysis to determine what systems the migration will affect?

  • Medicare Site Certificates & Provider ID’s
  • Secure Message addresses
  • Accounting software (synced cloud versions and manual data exports/imports)
  • EFT Terminals (will you need WIFI terminals with the new PMS)
  • Medical Devices (are they internet enabled?)
  • Printers
  • Internet / Network and WIFI
  • Computers, Tablets and Smart Phones

Data migration usually focuses on the core and target systems. However, these two systems are rarely the only ones affected. Prevent broken links during migration by doing a landscape analysis; this will help you map out what other systems use the data you’ll be migrating, and help you see how the data migration could influence them.


Have you identified software necessary to complete the migration?

Once you’ve identified the systems, amount and type of data you’ll be migrating; you’ll need to choose software to help you move the data to the target system. Whether you choose to create a checklist, roadmap or GANNT chart will depend on you, but commonly used tools include:

  • CSV, MS Excel
  • Google Sheets – great for collaborating on roadmaps
  • Trello or Wrike – great for flexible project management (GANNT, calendar, checklists)
  • Asana – great for advanced “to-do” lists


Imagine the “bad” things

In IT circles it is a well-known fact that “Most failed data migration projects, fail due to lack of imagination in the planning stage.” Notice that I didn’t say ‘lack of planning’. But there is an insufficient amount of imagining what the various bad outcomes of various actions might be so that you can prevent the bad things from happening, or at least have a predetermined plan for when they do happen. Think through each stage of your migration and plan for the worst case scenario, and It could save you untold heartache.