When a healthcare organization grows or changes, it often accumulates healthcare data in legacy systems that are no longer needed for everyday use or used aside for compliance reasons. But when it’s time to update to a new system, an organization often still needs access to the data kept on the legacy system. The problem is, keeping an old system so an organization can keep their old data is costly due to maintenance and update fees, but it can actually prevent organizations from moving forward too.
Further, there are significant compliance concerns to keep in mind. Sure, the chances of an organization needing that legacy data might not be high, but this doesn’t mean it can overlook HIPAA compliance and other legal considerations for maintaining healthcare data.
This isn’t a unique consideration either—most healthcare businesses have to deal with the issue of healthcare data archiving at some point.
The good news? There’s a solution to all of this that doesn’t require the expensive maintenance of a legacy system: healthcare data archiving!
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of data archiving and how you can retire your legacy systems without losing access to your old data.
Healthcare data is becoming increasingly important in our modern world. When patients receive care, they want to know their information is being kept confidential and secure.
However, when healthcare organizations retire legacy systems, this can put data at risk.
Data archiving is a way for organizations to keep their old data while maximizing capacity on a new system. Also, with data archiving, there are significant cost-saving opportunities. That’s because organizations don’t have to keep their old system which would require maintenance costs and frequent security updates in order to maintain HIPAA compliance.
As such, healthcare organizations hoping to reduce costs while still ensuring compliance should consider data archiving as an option for storing patient records and other healthcare data.
This is a question many healthcare organizations face as technology advances and businesses change. There’s no one right answer to this question, but these are some signs it’s time to retire a legacy system:
There are also several factors to consider when making the decision to keep or retire a system. One of the key considerations is data – what will happen to the data when the system is retired?
There are two options for healthcare data when a legacy system is retired – archiving and purging.
Archiving data means the data is still accessible following the retirement of the system. This is beneficial for many reasons, including HIPAA compliance and state laws for maintaining healthcare data. Additionally, it means you still have access to your old data, all without clogging your new system with data you might not need.
(Learn more about the importance of archiving healthcare data here)
Purging data means the data is no longer accessible once the system is retired. There are certain situations when purging data might be appropriate over archiving. However, this is a decision that needs to be made carefully. Ideally, it should also be made with the help of a HIPAA compliance officer and other legal support.
Otherwise, you risk violating HIPAA guidelines (more on those in a moment) or purging data you still need—both of which can have serious consequences.
So, which option is best for healthcare organizations? In most cases, data archiving is the best choice. After all, it provides many benefits, including reduced costs, improved compliance, and data accessibility. So, let’s take a closer look at each of these benefits next.
Reduced costs: When you archive healthcare data, you can retire your old system without losing access to the data. This can save on maintenance and update costs for the old system.
Improved compliance: Data archiving can help improve compliance with regulations such as HIPAA. This is because archived healthcare data can be accessed and reviewed as needed without having to maintain a live system.
Data accessibility: Archived healthcare data is still accessible after retiring a legacy system. This means you can refer back to the data when needed without having to keep a live system up and running.
More peace of mind: Archiving rather than purging data offers healthcare organizations a lot of peace of mind. Largely, this peace of mind comes from knowing that while an organization might never need to access that data, it’s confident it is meeting compliance guidelines for retaining healthcare data.
Now, more on some of those compliance guidelines.
The healthcare industry is subject to stringent regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For example, HIPAA requires most healthcare organizations to maintain health records for at least six years from the patient’s last visit or encounter. Further, most states also have their own regulations for maintaining healthcare data. (See a comprehensive list here)
When retiring a legacy healthcare system, it’s important to ensure data is archived in a way that meets all of these regulatory requirements—including maintaining the data for at least six years. In fact, this should be one of, if not your top, concern for the entire process.
Next, let’s talk about some of the specific HIPAA requirements for patient information next.
Under the Privacy Rule, HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to keep certain patient information private and secure.
As outlined on HHS.gov, this includes:
HIPAA also requires healthcare organizations to provide patients with access to their own medical records. Patients have the right to see and get copies of their own records, as well as request corrections to any errors in the record.
As such, it’s vital to ensure these records are maintained for the appropriate amount of time to ensure organizations are compliant not only with privacy laws, but also meeting the HIPAA and state guidelines for how long the information must be kept.
Luckily, working with experts who help pharmacies, hospitals, and healthcare providers securely migrate, archive, and warehouse their data and images for compliance takes care of all of your healthcare data archiving needs, including compliance concerns.
Effective data archiving can help you meet compliance requirements by providing a way to keep your data after the retirement of a legacy system. Archived healthcare data can be accessed when necessary, without maintaining the legacy system with a web-based archive.
So, when choosing a data archive solution, be sure to select one that meets your specific regulatory requirements. For example, to ensure you comply with HIPAA, look for a solution (like Two Point) that offers HIPAA-compliant data archiving.
Finally, let’s talk about the best healthcare data archiving solutions for retiring legacy systems. No two solutions are made exactly alike. That’s why it’s critically important to choose the most appropriate and efficient option for your unique needs.
Here are a few key factors to keep in mind as you evaluate healthcare data archiving solutions:
Are you looking for a healthcare data archiving solution that ticks all of these boxes? Then we recommend taking a closer look at Two Point’s healthcare data archiving services.
Not only do we have a full-time, on-site compliance officer to implement HIPAA and Information Security policies and procedures, but we also have extensive experience and expertise in healthcare data archiving and migration. Further, we have our own proprietary software for doing so. Our ACERT™ software migrates legacy data for single stores or en masse, archives images and documents, and can provide continuous backup and disaster recovery services.
Using the data from your legacy system, we create clinical or financial summaries of patient data and migrate or convert existing documents and images to PDFs. Our clients can then log in to the site to access any of the loaded data. Clients also have the option to classify the data in different ways. For example, we can set it up so it’s based on patient encounters, or it can be broken down by the entire medical record for a patient.
Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.