Staying on top of updates for mission-critical software such as your NextGen electronic health record (EHR) can be challenging for IT departments. Releases typically occur once or twice a year and bring new enhancements, features, and fixes. NextGen Enterprise Spring ’21 (v6.2021.1) is a major release with many robust capabilities to enhance the patient and provider experience and keep you in compliance with the 21st Century Cures Act. A successful upgrade project takes a strategic and well-planned approach so your IT resources can also maintain their focus on other important initiatives. We’re here to help ensure your success.
This NextGen Upgrade Guide for IT lays out proven strategies to upgrade your EHR as smoothly and efficiently as possible so your practice can get back to what it does best—taking care of patients.
Updates contribute to a healthy IT system. We’re here to help you succeed.
Before you get started, take a step back and analyze why you need this new release. For many practices, there’s no question it has to happen as soon as possible. Some practices may be able to wait and upgrade NextGen at a time that better matches other IT plans and initiatives.
Make sure you understand these three important elements of the NextGen v6.2021.1 release:
Important: If your providers participate in MIPS, you must upgrade to 6.2021 prior to 2023 reporting. While 2023 may sound far-off, there may be several time-consuming steps before you can complete your upgrade in production.
Latest operating systems. The new release requires the latest operating systems (OSes) for Microsoft Windows, Windows Server, and SQL Server. If you need to update those as well, that must happen before you begin your NextGen upgrade.
Important: OS and database upgrades can have unintended consequences, such as a need for updated server hardware. If you’ve been considering moving your EHR to the cloud, this might be the tipping point.
New patient portal. With this release, the new Patient Experience Platform (PxP) replaces the Patient Portal, providing a better web presence and more user-friendly experience for patients.
Important: The Patient Portal will no longer be integrated in NextGen v6.2021 and higher, so the new PxP portal must be installed and migrated at the same time as the EHR and database upgrades.
Read the Overview Brochure on new major releases. This will give you quick highlights on the best items this release has to offer and is a great option to share with others in your organization to help make your case on why this release is important.
Review the Release Notes. These documents are produced for every patch update and list each known issue fixed. You can easily search on the Known Issue (KI) number if you have one available. If you’ve been waiting for an important fix, this is where you’ll find it.
Watch available New Feature Webinars. These give you a nice visual presentation of what to expect in the new release. Many times, these are recorded so you can watch them when it’s most convenient for you. If you can attend a live session, this is a great time to ask the presenter specific questions.
Put the upgrade in context. Consider what other IT initiatives are in your plans, and whether the upgrade fits with those plans and budgets. If you don’t have to upgrade immediately, you may have some breathing room to perform the upgrade when it’s most appropriate for your needs.
Think beyond IT. Major upgrades can require significant changes in provider and staff workflows. Weigh the pros and cons with stakeholder groups beyond IT and consider staffing and training requirements.
When you’re ready, create your upgrade plan using our proven, step-by-step approach.
Determine who is going to be on your project team and what role they need to play. Consider all the various jobs affected and areas of the NextGen EHR or practice management (PM) system they use.
Review the new infrastructure requirements with your technical team. Each NextGen version has its own specific requirements you need to be aware of.
A major upgrade is a great time to look at exactly what your organization is using and why. You may discover that there are legacy applications that are no longer being used or that don’t perform well, or that you have third-party applications that can be replaced with new NextGen ancillary applications.
This is an incredibly important step to undertake with any major upgrade. Simply put, a gap analysis is finding out what the differences are between where you are now and where you are going to end up. Most of the time this refers to your NextGen EHR templates, but this approach can be used to evaluate the entire application
The NextGen Success Community website provides formal testing guides but every organization is different, and the guides are just that: guides to get you started. A test plan specific to your needs will help you identify issues and find a resolution during testing, which is one of the best ways to avoid headaches once you go live.
NextGen gives you a license for four different databases specifically to give you three non-production environments for testing purposes.
Update Universal & System Preferences:
Never underestimate the positive impacts of a great training plan, especially if you’re introducing a lot of change. This step helps ensure your employees are primed for success.
You’ll want to start your upgrade with no critical or unfinished tasks hanging over your head. And remember, when you add or change something in the test environment, it’s not automatically replicated in the production environment-these are separate databases. Creating before and after lists throughout your upgrade preparations and testing will help ensure a smooth go-live.
Before the Upgrade
After the Upgrade
Depending on how much change the upgrade is introducing, you may want to plan for one to three days of go-live support to help employees through the process.
A good communication plan is easy to overlook, but can be one of the most important elements of a successful NextGen upgrade. Just because you and your IT team know what’s happening doesn’t mean everyone else does. And changing the software that every employee depends on can introduce a lot of stress and frustration.
Proven best practices will help you successfully navigate your NextGen upgrade. But one of the best things you can do is to ensure that you have the best infrastructure for your mission-critical EHR software.
Hosting your NextGen application and data in the cloud built for healthcare ensures that:
Med Tech Solutions
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Med Tech Solutions (MTS) creates technology systems that work the way healthcare practices work. Our Practice-Centered CareTM services use dedicated IT Care Teams to ensure technology systems support essential clinical workflows and strategic business plans. Provider organizations and networks can count on a secure, reliable IT infrastructure, optimized clinical and business applications, and full end-user support so they can focus on patient care. MTS was founded in 2006 in Valencia, California, and serves thousands of healthcare practices nationwide. The company has been recognized as a seven-time Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Company and a top-ranked Channel Futures MSP 501 provider, and it has achieved HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) certification for its cloud platform. Learn more at www.medtechsolutions.com.