In the first blog of this series, we attempted to answer a simple question: “What is an archive?” Well, as it turns out, the answer isn’t all that simple as the definitions, types and use cases of “archive” vary. We introduced the idea of the Archive Continuum and in our second blog, we reviewed low-functioning archives that basically serve as a “cold storage” option for data that doesn’t need to accessed frequently, if at all. We traveled to the opposite end of the spectrum in our third blog and explored high-functioning archives that offer lots of bells and whistles—basically one step below an EMR, i.e., “EMR-minus-one.” In this blog, we’ll explore the options that exist in between those two extremes, as well as their possible features and use cases.
Like cold storage, “in-between” archives are view-only – however, unlike those low-functioning archive options, a “medium-functioning” archive will include a user interface, making the data within it more accessible to clinicians and staff. Let’s look at a few use cases for a medium-functioning archive.
A medium-functioning archive may allow you to print screens and perform simple release of information (ROI) requests. It may include some patient accounting functionality, such as posting payments and adjustments, getting agency extract files or printing statements and claims on demand. Some enterprise resource planning (ERP) functionality, like storing and printing W2s or pay stubs, is also possible. Clinicians may be able to access discrete clinical data while charting completed visits or in preparation for a visit, but not while charting a current visit. They may even be able to post notes to the account or visit.
From a reporting standpoint, a medium-functioning archive may allow you to run pre-written reports that can be filtered or configured as needed, but not written from scratch. An example of this on a micro scale is filtering by transaction types in a Patient Accounting archive. On a macro scale, an example might be the ability to provide an analytics view showing clinical categories that align more with an enterprise strategy or that are configured differently than the incoming categorization.
Finding your “just right” archive
Keep in mind, having the ability to modify and update archived data (as well as a more feature-rich user interface) will quickly swing the pendulum toward the high-functioning end of the continuum. For this reason, it’s important to understand what you need from your archive in order to find the perfect fit. Your organization’s specific archival needs will point you in the right direction. And you may find yourself looking at options all across the continuum.
Not sure where to start? In our next and final blog in this series, we’ll guide you through the steps that will set you on the right path for your organization’s legacy data.
About the Author:
Dr. Shelly Disser began developing strategies, methodologies and processes to enable health enterprises to efficiently archive, manage and activate legacy data more than 20 years ago. She founded one of the first data archiving companies for the health sector, competing solely with MediQuant. Shelly led the company for 15 years, selling it in 2014 to develop her own consulting firm for healthcare services. In 2017, Shelly joined her old competitor MediQuant to help lead the company supporting client advocacy. Today, this industry leader is vice president of solution delivery – offering her expertise in management, data strategy and analysis.