Medical records require thoughtful and careful handling due to the sensitive information they contain. When choosing how to store your medical records, you have several option.
Whether your store your records digitally or at a secure location is up to you, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Watch the video or read the transcript below to learn more!
What Are the Options?
When it comes to how to store and manage medical records there are two basic options—electronic health records (otherwise known as EHRs) or paper medical records.
To figure out which option is right you have to first evaluate needs—if you use files regularly then an EHR is the best option, however with records you need to keep but don’t use then off site storage is the better option.
Why Use an EHR System?
While boosting efficiency is one of the primary advantages of an EHR, it’s not only benefit.
Besides speeding up daily processes, EHY systems also provide built-in securities and can cut operating expenses.
Lower Operating Costs
A paperless hospital or practice saves on operating costs in multiple ways including:
- Supply Costs: Electronic health record systems greatly reduce costs for paper, printer ink and toner, file cabinets or shelving, and other everyday resources
- Labor Costs: Time is money, and removing the time needed for employees to find, copy, or refile records in turn helps you get more for your money.
- Space Costs: Thousands of files can be stored in a fraction of the space paper takes up—as a result providing an opportunity to save on real estate space or use the new space for revenue-generating purposes.
Electronic health record systems boost efficiency and reduce time bottlenecks in several ways:
- EHR system users can find files via keyword search, easily make copies, and quickly send and receive files—helping to spend less time searching and more time working
- Many everyday “chores” with medical records management such as tracking retention can be automated
- The space saved can be used to add new patient rooms—helping to increase the number of patients that can be seen and cared for at one time
EHR systems use several methods for protecting sensitive PHI and ensuring compliance with HIPAA privacy laws:
Tiered Access Controls
Password-based access controls are used to limit who can use information. For sensitive files, multiple tiers of access control can be used.
To protect from external threats EHR systems use encryption. That way even if the system is penetrated somehow, without the decryption key the information is jumbled and useless.
When to Use Off Site Storage
Off site storage is often used in more specific situations like with record retention laws for medical records that require keeping but are rarely used.
Besides being more cost-effective though, storing off site also comes with some efficiency advantages of its own.
Save on Scanning Costs
While off site records storage gives the same advantages of freeing up space for more cost-effective purposes, the primary benefit is the scanning money it saves.
Rather than paying per page to scan records that need keeping but aren’t used, a single box of records (holding 2,000-2,500 pages) can be kept at an off site facility for only 50-90 cents.
Simplify Retention and Shredding
Storing files at an off site facility can also help to simplify various parts of a records management program such as retention tracking and shredding.
When record boxes are initially taken to a facility for example they can be pre-labeled and marked so that retention times for the documents can be tracked.
Then to streamline disposing and destroying records, once the retention periods expire the facilities either have shredders on site or partner with another shredding provider—helping to save time and take steps out of a records management program.
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