Health IT teams are constantly faced with the challenge of maintaining legacy systems and data. Costs of supporting these systems keep rising every year. As healthcare organizations merge and become more prominent, the number of legacy systems acquired multiplies. It’s not uncommon to find a large healthcare facility maintaining scores of legacy apps and archives. At some point, CIOs and healthcare leaders can’t keep holding on to these old systems. If you are currently in the “valley of decision,” here are some principles you can follow when you decommission a legacy system in healthcare.

1. Retire Unsupported Systems to Boost Security

Legacy systems are common entry points for hackers. Cybercriminals know their vendors and developers no longer support those legacy systems.

The majority of these systems don’t receive any security updates, patches, or anti-malware updates. They are insecure, yet they contain valuable and sensitive patient data.

Unfortunately, since they don’t have regular users, their abnormal behavior can’t be identified. That’s why it is essential to assess the security risk posed by these systems and plan to retire them.

Bear in mind that if these systems violate HIPAA rules, they could cost your organization millions of dollars worth of fines.

2. Set up Archives to Improve Accessibility

Carefully evaluate your accessibility requirements. Focus on what your clinicians need. If the data is from another EHR and you can’t migrate it into a new system, make it available online.

You can create a web interface for the data. Then put a link in your EHR so that clinicians can view the data from a browser interface.

If the data is not needed for clinical continuity, you can create a static archive for the data. Your organization may need such data to fulfill information requests or satisfy legal requirements in a court case. Just ensure that the type of archive you choose meets your projected accessibility needs.

3. Preserve Metadata for Legal Purposes

When archiving data, it’s easy to focus on the actual data values without remembering the metadata. Such an omission can put you at risk when you need to fulfill an e-Discovery request.

To avoid such legal risks, your organization must preserve legal, medical records. Such data includes:

  • Data changes and version history
  • Database metadata
  • Data held in ancillary systems
  • Audit logs and trails

4. Comply With Data Retention Laws

Take time to study the laws regulating EHR data retention. These laws vary from state to state in the U.S.

Before the massive adoption of EHRs, most retention laws involved keeping records for legal investigations and some population health research.

However, now that healthcare access has been transformed by remote care and interoperability, most organizations may have to hold healthcare records in permanent archives online.

You should only purge data that has not “expired.” Consult a lawyer for clarification before you make any decision to delete old medical records.

5. Opt for a Cloud-based Data Archive

As cloud providers and vendors offer improved services each year, moving data to the cloud has become more attractive.

After you have decided to retire old applications, you should prepare to archive the data in the cloud. Frequently accessed data can be placed in an active archive, while data retained for legal reasons may reside in a static one.

To reduce the cost of migration and successfully archive data in antiquated systems, you need to consult a medical data archiving expert.

Connect to a Legacy System Migration Expert Today

For a free consultation with a specialist in decommissioning legacy systems in healthcare, contact MediQuant at 844.286.8683 today. Visit our contact page now to discuss your data migration needs and see a free demo of our archiving solutions.


About the Author:
Founded in 1999, MediQuant’s initial objective was to provide innovative, dependable revenue cycle technology to the healthcare market. Led by seasoned healthcare and IT management professionals, the company’s purpose has widened in scope since its early days. Today, MediQuant provides comprehensive data life cycle management technology, working in close partnership with healthcare providers and other vendors to optimize data management, including revenue cycles. The MediQuant team, a core group composed of highly experienced IT professionals supported by knowledgeable administrative staff, boasts extensive experience in healthcare software development, EDI, clinical services, data management and other specialties. Utilizing a customer-focused approach, the MediQuant team customizes its data life cycle management technology to meet the needs of each client and supports that technology with a level of service unparalleled in the industry.