New Tool Facilitates a Hands-Off Approach to Medical Record Retention Compliance and Improved Systems Performance

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Charlie Batutis By Charlie Batutis 
Senior Product Manager of Technology and Connectivity, Change Healthcare
Health IT Tool for Electronic Health Records

The failure of medical providers to retain patient medical records information for the federal/state mandated period of time can result in penalties in the form of thousands of dollars in fines per incident and felony charges.

Even after a patient is discharged, various federal and state level regulations define how long service providers must retain information based upon the providers’ line of business and specific services provided. Additional regulations govern how timely the information must be provided in response to government, utilization review entities, patient and legal requests.

Healthcare providers utilizing electronic health records (EHRs) have, through inaction, accepted the default option of retaining all patient information in their active production environment for many (or all) of the following reasons:

  • Desire to have immediate access to all historical patient admission information for the purposes of review in context with a current event
  • Fear of violating the various record retention policies by not retaining medical records information for the period of time sufficient to comply with regulations
  • Attempt to mitigate the risk of fines due to inability to produce a copy of the medical records information in a timely manner
  • Failure to have designated data management resources and a purposeful data management strategy

Bloated Databases Cause Inefficiencies

The practice of keeping all active and inactive patient data in a silo in the same production environment can have a collection of negative impacts on your entire organization through:

  • Degraded system performance and slower response times. Large bloated databases consume as much memory as servers can accommodate and simply do not perform as well as lean ones. The need to wade through excessive data limits electronic process capabilities and puts unnecessary constraints on hardware and processing time.
  • Increased costs. You can encounter larger capital hardware expenses in an effort to accommodate large databases with high speed technology. This problem also results in additional time spent maintaining IT production environments and imposing on production resources through areas such as longer nightly backup times.
  • Loss of end-user productivity. End-users routinely are forced to wade through historical patient information no longer germane to production operations on their way to completing operational tasks.
  • Data integrity issues. Fifteen years worth of “John Smith’s” can complicate routine tasks and result in negative consequences, such as accidentally documenting on the wrong case.

Increasing administrative regulations being imposed upon the healthcare provider community can contribute to the rising costs for providing care, and human involvement provides little value in context of data management.

Wading through mountains of data undermines the primary mission of healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes by employing information technology in the realm of meaningful use, interoperability and data analytics.

Accessible Automated Electronic Archive Can Help

Change Healthcare’s answer to this data dilemma is the new Accessible Automated Electronic Archive technology. Design was based on customer feedback we received before and during the development process.

Using the new functionality can help your organization:

  • Facilitate patient care by helping to ensure relevant patient history remains accessible in real-time
  • Support your ability to comply with federal and state regulations that mandate record retention periods and timeframes to produce medical records in response to government/patient/legal requests
  • Reduce physical storage costs associated with medical records information storage and retrieval
  • Lower medical technology costs by preventing your IT department from having to apply the same high-speed technology and scalability plan to information that’s accessed only on a limited basis
  • Increase productivity by improving system performance and reducing search times for the entire population of users accessing the production environment
  • Free up valuable technical staff by reducing/eliminating time necessary to actively manage historical medical records information

Our new archive functionality can help clinicians access the patient information they need, as well as help to reduce the financial and technical burdens on your IT staff.

For the latest on health IT trends in the home health and home care industry, check out our Home Care IT News section.

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