Back when we were storing paper-based records – remember records rooms? – it was easy to visualize the volume of information. Unlike those rooms, when healthcare providers moved to electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR) systems, the burden of managing the massive amount of patient data generated each year did not disappear.
Managing patient data continues to be a major challenge for health IT professionals – especially since the volume of that data only continues to increase.
A study on biomedical data mining revealed that a patient generates about 80 megabytes of data annually and most of this data is in the form of EMR and imaging data. This, along with the expectation that healthcare data will have an annual growth rate of 36-percent through 2025, healthcare organizations must strategically address enterprise archiving now in order to effectively manage this rapidly increasing demand for increased access to comprehensive patient records.
Because, as the volume of patient data increases, so too does the need to archive legacy data. When paired with the evolving expectations for legacy patient data, it’s wise to invest in a strong, secure and scalable active healthcare archiving solution that can meet an organization’s needs now and in the future.
Here are some of the best practices providers can adopt to effectively manage healthcare data:
1. Comply with Record Retention Regulations
Healthcare providers must strictly adhere to HIPAA privacy regulations. Providers must also meet the requirements of national and state regulators. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services specifies that providers of managed care must keep their patients’ records for a decade. In each U.S. state, there are also specific regulations on the number of years for keeping medical records after the last treatment date.
While many states specify a minimum of 10 years for storing patient data, but there are some exceptions. Some of the outliers include Massachusetts, Alabama, and Oregon. Providers in Massachusetts need to keep data in an active archive for 30 years after discharging or treating a patient. In Alabama, providers must keep records until the patient has completed treatment. Oregon providers must preserve records in their master patient index permanently.
2. Develop a Failsafe Data Storage Plan
On-site storage is desirable in most practices because it gives providers the greatest control over their records. However, this has one major disadvantage – accidental data destruction. Data may be completely destroyed during a fire or natural disaster. An employee error or hardware failure could also make data inaccessible.
While most small practices can keep their data for some time, a growing practice must plan for the expansion and archiving of medical records.
3. Outsource Long-term Data Storage
Combining cloud-based and on-premise technologies can increase storage capacity and provide seamless access to medical records and images. The use of cloud storage technology facilitates the sharing of current and legacy data with colleagues and patients.
Some cloud image archiving systems also work directly with radiology departments to store images and enhance the storage capabilities of imaging machines.
4. Use Scalable Storage for Medical Images
Storage requirements for medical images can be quite large, with file sizes growing rapidly with the use of higher resolution imaging. While most equipment like ultrasound machines and other radiology equipment has temporary image storage, keeping legacy images for inactive cases poses a unique challenge for providers.
For active cases, images need to be available for quick access and analysis. These images may also be needed to study a patient’s medical history in future. It’s essential to plan for the storage and archiving of image data. Working with a data archiving specialist and utilizing virtual cloud-based servers will reduce the burden on in-house resources and data servers.
Get More Information on Healthcare Archiving Solutions
Connect with MediQuant, the leading provider of active enterprise healthcare data archiving solutions for health systems. Schedule a free demo of our health data archiving platforms and see how you can extend instant access to legacy data to your organization’s clinicians and staff while significantly reducing the cost of data storage.