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EMR System Decommission

When they are decommissioning a legacy system in healthcare, organizations will have a variety of questions and concerns come up. What should they do with old system data? What is the most effective solution for keeping data they don’t need to migrate? And what are the best practices for an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system decommission to ensure compliance, security, and accessibility? 

These are all important questions to ask, and we’re going to answer them in today’s post.

What Is EMR System Decommissioning?

Let’s begin with the basics: what is an EMR system decommission?

EMR system decommissioning is the process of shutting down or retiring an EMR system and removing all associated data from the network. This includes patient, financial and clinical data.

What To Do With Old System Data?

Once they decide to decommission an EMR system, healthcare organizations need to figure out what to do with all that old data.

Three critical parts of this decision include:

  • Determining what data is required, cost-effective, or even possible to migrate to the new solution
  • Finding an easy-to-use solution for the data that must be kept but doesn’t need to be  migrated to the new application(s)
  • Considering the value of the healthcare data being retained

So, let’s talk about each of these considerations in greater detail next.

Determine what data is required, cost-effective, or even possible to migrate to the go-forward solution.

First, a healthcare organization needs to consider which data they’re required to keep. This is critical for compliance concerns, which we’ll talk more about later in this post.

It’s also important to consider costs for maintaining data in legacy systems. After all, if an organization no longer needs to maintain data and they’re paying to do so, that’s money that could be better spent on other purposes.

Finally, some data may not be feasible or allowed by the new vendor to migrate to a new EMR system. This might be due to its age or the lack of an easy-to-use solution for that data. In these cases, it’s vital to think about how that data can still be accessed and used in the future.

Look for an easy-to-use solution for the data that must be kept but not migrated to the new application(s).

Next, it’s time to consider what the best solution is for healthcare data organizations must maintain, but can’t to migrate to the new application.

The best solution for this type of data is often an archive. Healthcare data archiving can keep EMR data accessible and compliant with retention laws without taking up storage space on the new EMR system.

However, when retiring an EMR system, it’s important to make sure all of its data is properly destroyed. This includes both the EMR software itself and any legacy patient information still being stored on the system.

(We talk more about the importance of healthcare data archiving here)

To comply with retention laws and boost security, healthcare organizations should work with a qualified healthcare data archiving company to set up an EMR archive.

Think about the value of the data being retained

Finally, be sure to consider the value of the healthcare data being retained. When an organization considers purging EMR data—beyond compliance concerns—they’ll also want to consider any other potential value the data could hold.

After all, EMR systems play an indispensable role in the healthcare industry. They store patient data which can be used for many purposes, including clinical research, improving patient care, and legal proceedings. So, when it’s time to decommission an EMR system, it’s important to make sure that the data is preserved in a usable format. 

Legacy Computer To New Archive Computer

EMR Decommissioning Best Practices

Next, let’s move on to some EMR decommissioning best practices for healthcare organizations. By following these best practices, healthcare organizations can ensure their legacy systems are retired safely and in compliance with HIPAA and state laws.

Retire Unsupported Systems to Boost Security

When an EMR system is decommissioned, it’s important to take steps to retire any unsupported systems that may still be in use. These systems can be a major security risk, as they may not have the latest security updates or patches installed.

Set up Archives to Improve Accessibility

Another helpful consideration when decommissioning an EMR system is setting up archives to improve accessibility. When an EMR system is retired, all of its data may not be immediately accessible.

But with healthcare data archiving, the organization has access to the data in the form of archives to improve accessibility and make it easier for people to find the data they need.

Comply With Data Retention Laws

Finally, it’s important to comply with data retention laws when decommissioning an EMR system. Many states have laws that require healthcare organizations to retain patient data for a certain period of time.

For example, HIPAA generally requires healthcare organizations to maintain patient records for a minimum of six years from the patient’s last admission. But depending on the state in which the healthcare facility is located, healthcare organizations might need to maintain data for 20 years or more. (Read about state guidelines for maintaining patient records here)

So, when decommissioning an EMR system, a top consideration must be making sure all patient data is properly destroyed or archived in accordance with these state and federal laws.

Get Expert Guidance on EMR System Decommissioning

EMR decommissioning can be a complex process. But with the help of healthcare data conversion specialists like Two Point, it doesn’t have to be. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your EMR system decommission as seamless as possible.

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