Earlier this week, our organization spoke with a Behavior Health Provider about the HIPAA Compliance of their Digital and IT Systems. One of the services we offer at our company is Audit Readiness Reviews and IT Risk Management, a critical need in the Healthcare industry. However, this provider quickly stopped us and said: “we aren’t digital, yet.” Now, this isn’t uncommon for small providers, but what really interested us was their reason for not Digitizing – cost. Cost control is obviously a concern for any Organization, so it was an understandable, albeit misguided, reason for not moving towards digitization of Medical Records. In light of this conversation we had, we wanted to share our top 5 reasons that Healthcare Providers need to Digitize to Survive.
1. Cost Optimization
It’s no surprise that this is one of the most important reasons for Digitizing Records, but the concern is that many providers see the move to Digital as more costly than their current analog system, simply because they have always done it that way. What providers need to take into account is the cost and technical debt associated with not digitizing. By architecting your Data Retention Policy around Durability, Accessibility, and Privacy, you will be protecting yourself from both Compliance related Fines and the upfront cost of storage. With AWS S3, you have an all in one solution that allows you to free up Physical Space by storing PHI Documents in a Low Cost, HIPAA Compliant Cloud Infrastructure.
2. Security & Compliance
In our industry, there is little that is more important than HIPAA Compliance and the privacy of Protected Health Information. When utilizing a physical/analog method of storing Medical Records long term, you can run into many unforeseen violations. This problem is compounded by State and Federal Laws regarding the retention and retrieval requirements for Medical records, with some States requiring records be kept for at least 7-10 years after a patient is discharged. Never mind the logistical nightmare of storing the records in a manner that is easily retrievable, but you are putting a serious burden on the Facilities and Operations departments at your organization. Paper records take up real space – space that you either rent or own that could be better utilized for staff or patients. If you are able to store records physically, there are numerous physical security measures you would need to implement to ensure that the records aren’t improperly accessed by staff or patients. We have seen many small providers store their records on site in the same space as office supplies! This is a huge issue, as this means just about anyone in the office has the opportunity to access PHI.
3. Efficiency & Scalability
As I touched on in the previous section, a big part of Record Retention is the ability to retrieve and store records in an efficient manner that will scale with your business. If you have a storage solution that slows the growth of your organization, whether financially or operationally, a change needs to be made. One of the most important aspects of Medical Record storage is the ability to locate, compile and send records when they are requested by governing bodies and other Providers. If you are stuck using an analog system, this process is expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the strict deadline for responding to legally mandated “Requests for Records”. By digitizing your Medical Records system, you can easily respond to requests in minutes, not hours or days. Furthermore, digital storage scales much easier (and cheaper) than physical storage scales.
With Efficiency comes Reliability. With Reliability comes Growth. By proving yourself to be a Security Focused, Reliable Provider, you will continue to grow your business. The biggest concerns for Risk Management when it comes to Medical Records are redundancy and durability. When you are working with physical records, the inherent need to make redundant backups leaves you with at least twice the paperwork you started out with. The obvious reasoning behind redundancy is improving the durability of your records, meaning that records stay intact in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Imagine the worst happens, and a natural disaster severely damages your offices where records are kept. Without geographically redundant backups, you and your patients are left in the dark. With digitization comes automatic backups and simple geographic redundancy. Furthermore, digital storage providers such as Amazon Web Services boast file durability of 99.999999999%. Yes, you read that right! With guarantees like this, you can rest easy knowing your critical records are safer than ever before.
Medical Records are prized possessions that need to be guarded against intrusion at all costs. Intrusion isn’t always as nefarious and external as it sounds, however. With physical records, it can be difficult to track the actions taken on a specific record. As HIPAA Complaint providers, you need to focus on Accountability across your organization, but this is specifically critical when it comes to PHI. Through digitization, you can easily track actions taken on records, such as who viewed it, when they viewed it, if any copies were made, or if it was sent to a 3rd party. With this ease of accountability, you can further improve the Trust your patients have in your ability.
When you consider all the aspects of Digitizing your storage of Medical Records it is clear that the benefits far outweigh the costs. While security and privacy need to be of the utmost importance, you need to consider the ways in which your current storage system in stunting the growth of your organization. After all, you got into Healthcare to help as many people as you can, so don’t let something like Record Storage slow you down. If you or your organization are interested in learning more about Digitizing your practice, contact our sales team at Dunwich Technologies so we can tailor a plan just for you. Follow us @dunwichtech!