Healthcare Data Archival Strategy – Part 1

A Critical Piece Of Your Modernization Strategy

This is the first part of a blog series that guides healthcare organizations thinking about embarking on their data archival journey.

Personal health information (PHI) is patient demographics, medical history, Lab results, mental health conditions, insurance information, and a multitude of additional healthcare data protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This patient information is maintained by healthcare professionals to identify individual patients and to determine appropriate care. Healthcare facilities also require the aid of this data to provide specific and professional continuation of care for each patient.

It’s important for healthcare facilities to maintain historical patient records in a secure and long-term repository. Whether sunsetting a legacy system or migrating to a completely new EMR, archiving data improves overall data management and information governance practices. It protects the data from being lost while also providing a process for managing retention policies and purging criteria.

What Is Data Archiving?

Many confuse data archiving with data backup. Backups are to restore an existing system as a disaster recovery measure. It is intended to restore the system as a business continuity measure. In contrast, archiving does not assume the system to exist. The core of any healthcare archive is a unified, centralized, and an easy-to-use archiving application.

The first step in any data archiving project is choosing an archive application for storing and viewing all historical healthcare information, the solution should focus on data integrity and provide easy access for the clinical staff. Healthcare facilities should also understand the significance of the verification process which is a critical step in assuring the accuracy of the data migration. These are some of the factors that govern any archiving project:

  • Number of systems being archived.
  • Size and age of the systems
  • Total patient record and visit counts.
  • Data accessibility
  • Data formats (proprietary/non-proprietary)
  • Vendor support

Benefits of Data Archiving

At a basic level, healthcare facilities can benefit by leveraging archive cloud storage all while reducing maintenance, licensing, and support expenses. At the same time, when combined with archive-level enterprise-wide patient deduplication, the costs of Release of Information activities can be particularly reduced. At a more advanced level, data archiving can enable business intelligence, machine learning, data mining, etc., through enterprise-wide vendor-neutral archives.

How To Identify a Good Data Archiving Platform?

A good data archiving platform will be flexible while preserving and consolidating all clinical data into a secure and globally accessible repository. Through this, multiple data sources can be consolidated within a single archive platform for easy and intuitive management. Further, migrating or converting generated report data, be it documents, files, or images from different systems (such as clinical, HR, payroll, AP, etc.), will be simple and cost-effective. It will provide the security and reliability that meets compliance requirements while giving faster access to historical information.

Moreover, the data archiving platform will reduce the cost of maintaining multiple sunset systems allowing your staff to focus on more mission-critical projects, ensuring staff efficiency and improved patient care.

In Conclusion

While the IT departments of healthcare facilities may be considering a long-term healthcare data archiving solution, it is critical to have a well-defined archival strategy backed by a robust and scalable platform. A vendor-neutral healthcare data archiving platform addresses infrastructure costs, compliance needs, storage bloat, and data security.

Data archiving helps healthcare organizations save money by storing data in a secure application platform to free up storage space and provide savings related to hardware and software maintenance. HTC’s iDocTM Archive – a health data archival platform, has been helping health facilities develop and execute a sound long-term archival strategy.

Stay tuned as we explore the various aspects of a strong archival strategy and execution in our upcoming blogs.


Douglas (Doug) Strange

Douglas (Doug) Strange

Director – Healthcare Practice, iDoc™ Product Line



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