Updating Legacy Systems? Why Data Quality Should Never Be an Afterthought

Why Data Quality Should Be Step 1 In A Core System Modernization Project 

Mark PriebeJuly 18, 2017

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The department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has finally decided to modernize its archaic electronic health records (EHR) system. According to Health Data Management , “VA officials announced this month that they plan to replace the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) with the same commercial off-the-shelf EHR from Cerner that the Department of Defense is currently implementing.”

At this time, the only thing standing in the VA’s way is congressional approval for the $16 billion in funding required to replace the legacy system. However, considering the complexity of a core system modernization project, Before the VA even gets funding they should start preparing for the transition.

Preparing for Core Systems Modernization 

Data quality should never be assumed when implementing a new core system. So in preparation, the VA will need to ensure data quality between VistA and the new system, in order to prove the new system is performing to expectations. If the VA has quality data post migration, it shortens the time to decommission VistA.

In addition, data quality is crucial because it helps identify bad data before it propagates through one system or various systems. Catching bad data early will cost the VA far less to remediate than cleaning up the collateral damage once it’s flowed downstream through various systems.

Without data quality checks, bad data can quickly proliferate into multiple systems. If not caught, it can result in drastic errors like incorrectly diagnosing and treating a veteran.  To help ensure bad data doesn’t proliferate through multiple systems, the VA needs to consider end-to-end data quality validations that mimic the required business process rules and provide reporting visibility into the health of the data. Any bad data is caught early and exception handling can be prioritized for prompt resolution.


An integrated data platform can help assure the success of any data migration and system conversion projects by helping eliminate information and process errors. The goal during any core systems migration is for the process to be seamless. In this case, that means for example, any veterans receiving treatment from the VA should never even notice that core systems migration is taking place.

To ensure a seamless migration the data integrity suite the VA chooses should come with automated, independent and real-time analysis. This will allow the VA to reduce the risks associated with migrating data or converting systems, while ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the entire process.

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