Lessons Learned from our EMR Upgrade

My 3-month “sabbatical” from blogging is hopefully over.  Without getting too long-winded I will just say that the past 3 months has been very busy with lots of different things, both personal and professional, so there was no time to write.  My apologies to John Lynn, who supports my blog site, and to the sponsors.  I intend to return to blogging with a vengeance. The good news is that many of these adventures have given me plenty to write about.

This past spring we upgraded our EMR system.  The upgrade was long overdue; we were still running on the 2005 version of our EMR software.  There was good reason for the delay.  When we got our EMR / PM system in 2004 the EMR and PM functions ran on separate databases.  After 2005 the product changed to put both parts into a single database.  Upgrading required merging the 2 databases.  We chose to put that off until our vendor accumulated some experience doing database mergers.  Plus the 2005 version was doing just fine.

Trouble is we had other overdue issues as well.  We were still running on our original servers purchased in 2004.  They were top-notch servers when we bought them and they had served well but were showing their age.

So our upgrade amounted to a very tall order:

  1. Upgrade from the 2005 software to the 2010 version (2011 upgrade delayed on the advice of our VAR), making a big jump.
  2. Purchase new servers and new memory (SAN)
  3. Switch to virtual servers / VMware
  4. Convert our database from 2-database structure to single database.

It comes as no surprise then that we had lots problems with the upgrade, and that was one of the reasons I was away from blogging.  In my next post I will describe our experience and try to come up with some take home lessons.


About the author

Dr. Michael Koriwchak

Dr. Michael Koriwchak

Dr. Michael J. Koriwchak received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1988. He completed both his Internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Koriwchak continued at Vanderbilt for a fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice. He is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
After training Dr. Koriwchak moved to Atlanta in 1995 to become one of the original physicians in Ear, Nose and Throat of Georgia. He has built a thriving practice in Laryngology, Care of the Professional Voice, Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery, Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and General Otolaryngology. A singer himself, many of his patients are people who depend on their voice for their careers, including some well-known entertainers. Dr. Koriwchak has also performed thousands of thyroid, parathyroid and head and neck cancer operations.
Dr. Koriwchak has been working with information technology since 1977. While an undergraduate at Bucknell University he taught a computer-programming course. In medical school he wrote his own software for his laboratory research. In the 1990’s he adapted generic forms software to create one the first electronic prescription applications. Soon afterward he wrote his own chart note templates using visual BASIC script. In 2003 he became the physician champion for ENT of Georgia’s EMR implementation project. This included not only design and implementation strategy but also writing code. In 2008 the EMR implementation earned the e-Technology award from the Medical Association of Georgia.
With 7 years EMR experience, 18 years in private medical practice and over 35 years of IT experience, Dr. Koriwchak seeks opportunities to merge the information technology and medical communities, bringing information technology to health care.


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