Lost EMR Data

Posted on October 24, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

More and more EMR data is being lost and this trend is just beginning. This is particularly true in the ambulatory space where ambulatory medical practices are being bought up left and right by health systems. In the vast majority of acquisitions, the acquired practice has to convert from their current EHR to the health system EHR. In that process, a few of them will convert some of the data, but in many cases, the health system leaves behind the data from the old EHR system. That data is lost.

Also, just to be clear, when I say the data is lost. It’s probably not fully lost. Most organizations continue to limp along the old system per the state records retention laws or they move it on to some archival solution. However, no one other than HIM has real access to the old system. If a doctor can’t easily access the data from the legacy EHR, then the data is lost from my point of view.

It’s a really unfortunate situation since much of that data has value that can impact the care being given to patients going forward. Plus, in the worst scenarios, the data is truly lost as the IT department sunsets an old system and doesn’t realize the proper way to retire a legacy system.

In a recent tweet, Galen Healthcare, experts in EHR data archiving, offered important insights into archiving old EMR and healthcare IT systems and highlighted some commonly missed data sets.

It’s amazing how many people forget the value and importance of things like a contextual audit trail. You’ll understand their value once you get a release of information request as part of a malpractice case. You don’t want to be there empty handed.

As EHR and other healthcare IT software matures and we start their replacement lifecycles, it’s going to be important that your organization has a detailed process for retiring old systems. You have to ensure your providers still have access to the clinical information they need, but that you also retain the other compliance information that protects your organization. Missing one or the other is a recipe for disaster.