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Clinical Access to Legacy Medical Records: Key for Patient Safety

When healthcare organizations move to a new EHR platform, patient safety can be jeopardized if clinicians do not have continued access to complete and accurate medical records. Along with avoiding severe medical errors, accurate records that are easily accessible can help improve decision support, patient care coordination, and population health management.

Why Access to Legacy Medical Records Matters

Consider this finding from The National Library of Medicine: “Studies found that 27%- 54% of patients had at least 1 medication history error and that 19%- 75% of the discrepancies were unintentional. In 6 of the studies (n = 588 patients), the investigators estimated that 11%-59% of the medication history errors were clinically important.” 

On the other hand, when there are errors or inaccuracies with EHRs, the consequences can be serious, if not deadly. For example, in 2016, Johns Hopkins reported: “Approximately 250,000 patients are known to die from human mistakes, diagnostic errors, system failures, and preventable patient safety events each year.”

This article will discuss why clinical access to legacy medical records is vital for patient safety and the many benefits of maintaining legacy data for clinical access.

Medical Record Continuity

Medical record continuity is essential for providing quality patient care, but it’s not always easy to achieve. That’s because most healthcare organizations have some form of legacy system — an older EHR system or other health IT system — that still contains essential patient data.

In many cases, the decision to switch EHR systems is driven by a desire to take advantage of new features and functionality offered by the latest generation of technology. But, in order to maintain continuity of care, clinicians must have continued access to accurate and complete medical records — even as they transition to a new system.

One way to ensure this continuity is through legacy data archiving and another is legacy data migration—two options we’ll discuss in a moment.

There are also several factors to consider when determining the best approach for clinical access to legacy medical records. These include the type of data being archived or migrated, the age of the data, the size of the data set, the level of detail required, and the resources available.

Why Clinical Access to Legacy Medical Records is Key for Patient Safety

Next, let’s discuss why clinical access to legacy medical records is key for patient safety. 

In short, the lack of clinical access to legacy medical records will impact a provider’s ability to make informed patient care decisions. For example, providers may be forced to make decisions based on incomplete data sets without accurate, up-to-date, and complete relevant medical history. This, in turn, could lead to diagnosis and treatment errors, jeopardizing patient safety.

Legacy Data Migration & Patient Safety

One way to mitigate this risk is through legacy data migration. Legacy data migration is the process of transferring historical patient data from one electronic health record (EHR) system to another. By migrating legacy data, providers can ensure they can access the most recent patient’s health history.

However, in doing so, it’s critical to ensure the maximum amount of data is migrated over to the new system. Any data that is not migrated – such as historical demographics, medications, allergies, laboratory results, and radiology reports – could be essential to a provider’s understanding of a patient’s health history. As such, it’s important to partner with a legacy data migration vendor who can provide you with information about what will be able to be brought across and what could be stored in a legacy data archive. 

Maintaining Clinical Access To Legacy Data Through Archival

Legacy data archival is another way to maintain clinical access to legacy medical records. Archival is the process of storing data in an accessible format for future use. Legacy health data archival can be used to store data from previous EHR systems and other health IT systems.

Ultimately, by archiving legacy medical records, providers can ensure they have the information they need to provide the best possible care to their patients. Not only does this improve patient safety, but it can also save time and money in the long run.

Benefits of Maintaining Legacy Data for Clinical Access

There are many benefits of migrating legacy data, but perhaps the most important is how it helps ensure continuity of care for patients. When providers have access to a complete view of a patient’s health history, they can make more informed decisions about their care. This, in turn, can help to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of errors and adverse events.

In addition to continuity of care, another benefit of migrating legacy data is how it can help improve population health management. When providers have access to comprehensive patient data, they can more effectively identify and track trends within populations. This information can then be used to develop targeted interventions that improve the overall health of a population.

Of course, compliance is also an important consideration when it comes to legacy data migration. In many cases, regulations require that certain types of patient data be retained for a minimum period of time. By migrating legacy data, providers can ensure they are able to meet these compliance requirements.

Finally, it’s worth noting that maintaining clinical access to legacy data can also have financial benefits. In some cases, providers may be able to bill for services that would otherwise not be possible if they did not have access to complete patient records. Additionally, by having a more complete view of a patient’s health history, providers may be able to avoid duplicate testing and other unnecessary procedures.


The take-home message is simple: clinical access to legacy medical records is key for patient safety. By migrating data or archiving records, providers can ensure they have the information they need to provide the best possible care to their patients. However, whether it’s data archiving or data migration, neither process should be taken lightly or performed without expert assistance. Doing so could put patient safety, as well as healthcare organizations, at risk.

When it comes to data archiving or data migration, the best course of action is to partner with a reputable vendor with experience in these processes. By working with a vendor, providers can ensure their legacy data is transferred correctly and they can meet all compliance requirements. In the end, this will help to protect both patients and providers alike.

Contact Two Point today to book a demo and learn more about our legacy data migration and archival solutions.

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