The current healthcare landscape is rife with change and uncertainty. As IT budgets shrink, the data IT is tasked with managing grows exponentially. And as it grows and ages, it must be archived. To fully realize the value of archived data, it must be properly structured, managed, stored, and utilized. An active data archive is the answer to achieving these goals.


What Makes an Active Archive Data Set “Active?”

An active data set is a dynamic collection of information that constantly evolves while remaining compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Unlike static PDFs, an active data set allows end users to perform various actions, such as record corrections, releases of information, and financial collections and reporting.

Data storage integrity and HIPAA compliance are essential for providers and a significant benefit to active healthcare data archiving. To comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, healthcare organizations must maintain an approach that prevents the disclosure and use of protected health information while adhering to HIPAA-compliant data storage requirements.

An active archive’s ability to interact with its environment, respond to changes, and initiate actions based on predefined rules or triggers — without requiring manual intervention — makes it “active.” It allows end users to utilize and interact with the data and make information corrections even when all the data is stored in an archive.

How Is Active Data Different From Static Data?

Active and static data differ fundamentally in interactivity and flexibility. Static data only permits end users to view the data, while active data permits that and much more.

With an active data archive, businesses can retain their legacy data by moving all their data into a single repository. Whether they wish to do a record correction or release patient information, they can manage everything from a single system. They can perform specific actions like changing demographics, sending follow-up bills, and editing payments.

What Are the Benefits of Healthcare Data Archiving?

An active archive can reduce organizational expenses by replacing multiple legacy systems and applications with a single archive. Legacy systems often require more resources to support them, but an active database can reduce the pressure on IT support and save time and money. Managing one data archive instead of multiple systems is less demanding on workforce focus.

Reducing the number of open systems and allowing greater allocation of resources to security provides a significant risk reduction for hospitals and healthcare systems.

An active archive also contains discrete data that can be utilized beyond document viewing. Users can use active data for data analytics, research, and population health analytics.

What Happens When You Flatten Data Into a PDF?

When data is flattened into a PDF, it’s frozen in time, and its value is significantly and irreversibly reduced. Once a data set is flattened into a PDF, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to fully restore its dynamic functionality. Users lose the ability to do anything beyond viewing it. Unlike active data, PDF data doesn’t allow organizations to perform actions like research and analytics, and it makes critical business functions, such as information releases, difficult.

How is Active Data Used When Archiving Medical Records?

Healthcare data is a gold mine of information. Proper healthcare data analysis can reveal patterns and connections that help providers with disease prevention and treatment. The healthcare industry can use data to make informed decisions, create better treatment plans, devise cost-effective patient care, and utilize predictive analytics.

The data sitting in legacy systems today has untold value. As the saying goes, “The future lies in the past.” Better treatments are developed with the analysis of data about previous patient treatments and outcomes. Historical data is crucial for both predictive and retrospective research, providing valuable insights into patient outcomes.

With access to large data sets, predictive analytics can help providers identify diseases earlier. Studying large data sets can help identify patterns and commonalities to prevent severe diseases through early diagnosis and treatment. Hospital-acquired infections are a good example of this: Analysis can help isolate the cause and adjust processes to prevent future infections.

Discrete data elements, such as patient age, name, race, diagnosis, symptoms, and lab results, can be stored in one system to build a complete picture of the patient. Hospitals can use data analytics to run queries to determine similarities, such as a particular instrument, provider, or surgery type, between infected patients and use the information to discover the cause and prevent future infections.

Creating Endless Possibilities With Active Archiving

Active data archives help healthcare organizations retain the value of their data and save significant costs while complying with HIPAA regulations. Moreover, active data greatly impacts data analytics, which helps improve decision-making in patient care and identify missed indications of diseases. When organizations store PHI, they should consider the endless opportunities an active archive can offer in the future.

By combining current and historical data and analyzing trends, the healthcare industry can make informed decisions and reveal patterns and similarities that are relevant to improving patient outcomes. For this reason, discrete data sets hold enormous potential for the future of healthcare.

Kel Pults, DHA, MSN, RN-BC, is the chief clinical officer and vice president of government strategy for MediQuant, healthcare’s leading provider of enterprise data archive solutions. Pults applies her deep healthcare and health informatics training and expertise to build effective health information solutions that support hospitals’ and health systems’ clinical data management needs.