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.