I am a provider. Why should I have a data storage strategy?

As you take your business from paper to digital, the volume of data you’re managing is increasing rapidly. And the next digital wave will include scanned signatures, digitized documents, images, and video. Get ready for costs and complexity with data storage to rise exponentially. Unless, of course, you have a strategy. There are four main drivers:

  1. Quality of Care

The knowledge of nurses in the paper world is largely limited to the clinician’s interaction with one patient, one record, one moment in time. In the digital world, interactions can be amassed and do amazing things. Directors of Clinical Informatics around the country from leading providers are slicing and dicing clinical data as a strategic asset to drive higher quality care. Your data storage strategy must make information readily available to empower direct-caregivers to make quicker, more-informed decisions. Lacking efficient data-storage and retrieval, caregivers miss opportunities to drive higher quality care on which your reimbursements and reputation depend.

  1. Disaster Recovery /Business Continuity

How much patient data can your business afford to lose? How long can your agencies or communities be without a workable IT system? Every provider has different answers to these questions but every organization requires quicker turnarounds to outages than ever before and it won’t get any easier. Lacking an effective strategy to store your data, you’ll waste time and money getting back up and running after an outage.

  1. Regulations

Every state has different requirements but in general, at a minimum, patient records including all correspondence regarding a patient’s care should be kept for a minimum of five years after discharge or death. Check with your legal counsel to verify laws in your area. These records should be readily accessible to a court or agency that requests them. American Healthcare Association compiled a list of state regulations regarding data retention. Lacking a data retrieval program, the cost of producing the data can often exceed the cost of settling a case itself.

  1. Litigation Readiness

Regardless of requirements, any patient data you have is discoverable. Even if the five, six, or seven year regulation is in the past, if you have specific patient data, you must produce that data if subpoenaed. In 2011, the OIG will be conducting reviews of how providers have complied with certain Medicare requirements for participation relating to quality of care. OIG’s reviews are going to focus on the link between plans of care and assessments of residents, services provided pursuant to plans of care and discharge plans. It is important to produce the required data for the OIG immediately. It is as important to have only that data that is required. Lacking a data retrieval program, you’ll spin your wheels on non-value-add activity that erodes your bottom line.

If you are interested in how VCPI can help you improve your data storage, give me a call.

Posted by Tim Tarpey, Regional Sales Manager, VCPI

Tim has 20+ years experience in working with senior executives to solve business challenges with technology, including the last four years in Senior Living and Post-Acute Care. With information among the most strategic assets a company has, executives of Fortune 1000 companies turned to Tim to protect, store, secure, and manage information in the highly-regulated business environments of finance and healthcare. As Sarbanes Oxley and HIPAA drove increased challenges, Tim helped executives navigate the complexities while balancing cost and compliance. Today, Tim’s expertise lies in helping executives develop a roadmap for technology as the post-acute industry prepares for the outcome-driven world of 2014.