This is the fourth part of a blog series that guides healthcare organizations who are about to embark on their data archival journey.
Healthcare organizations understand both the legal and patient support reasons for maintaining historical patient data. Hence, they are looking for low-cost storage solutions that can scale up easily and allow them to retain historical patient data. Storage and retrieval need to be easy; archival applications should have the capability to integrate access from within the existing EMR. These are typically hyperlinks embedded within the patient record that would allow the user to launch the patient’s historical chart and present the user with the past history of the patient they currently are treating.
For healthcare organizations, the challenge to provide world-class service is compounded by the ever-evolving compliance requirements for patient data retention, accessibility, and protection. Before we embark on the data archiving journey, it is better to have a clear understanding of the various accessibility and retention factors of the archived data.
- Access to the historical patient records: A good archive system will have the flexibility to map similar permissions and group configurations as any data migrated to the new EMR will follow the new EMR permissions and processes.
- Archive application UI: Ease of navigation, searching, and viewing of historical patient data is essential for having both a simple user interface and patient charts that are organized in the same folder and report structure as your EMR. This will allow for simple and efficient access for the clinical staff.
- Security/Permissions: Active Directory access to the Archive application will allow for single sign-on and simplify moving between your EMR and Archive systems. If the folder and document mapping was correctly synced and access permission has been closely duplicated between the EMR and Archive, then user access should be very easy to coordinate and should align and match. So it is important to make sure the Archive system has multiple-level permissions with grouping capabilities around things such as facility, department, service/type, and provider.
- Reporting: Since access to the historical charts is handled by the archive application it’s important that audit tracking on historical patient records be detailed and even customizable to align closely with the EMR.
- EMR Integration
- Patient/Record level linking: Direct access to archived charts from within your current EMR will make for a seamless review of both current as well as older patient information. Having a single sign-on will allow users to toggle between both systems without any need to remember passwords. (Hyperlink – record & visit level)
- Data exporting: In some cases, it may be beneficial to export or upload specific historical data from the archive to the current EMR (i.e., PACs, Labs, Meds) and should be considered when choosing an archive system.
- Retention policies: Having accurate MPI is key to setting and managing retention policies. The archive system should have the ability to configure chart and document-level purging based on patient visit criteria. Having elements like DOS, DOB-Peds, SRVS/TYPE, and others will ensure a more accurate purging process.
- Compliance & Purging: Setting up and configuring the archive retention module will allow for rules and exceptions within the application to automatically manage the retention policies and keep them within the compliance spectrum. Having options for purging verification can also be beneficial as a final review option can be made available before the records are deleted.
Choosing What is Best for You
Financial costs are usually one of the key considerations when starting any project and embarking on a data archiving journey is no exception. This is why it is important to find a solution that reduces the cost of maintaining multiple sunset systems, allowing your staff to concentrate on more mission-critical projects. The streamlining of information both increases staff efficiency and improves patient care. Moreover, a solution that requires no new hardware allows organizations to free up valuable storage space and eliminate any ongoing legacy system support, licensing, and associated costs.