How are Medical Records Stored?

How are Medical Records Stored?

Medical records can be stored digitally as electronic health records (EHRs) or physically as paper documents. Typically, files you use regularly are more accessible as an EHR. Whereas, long-term or inactive records are best stored offsite in physical files.

Both options are regulated by HIPAA guidelines to protect privacy. HIPAA also requires that regardless of the retention period, medical records must be made available if the individual or designated representative requests them. To maintain privacy and security compliance, medical providers should develop policies and procedures to secure records with technological and physical safeguards while preserving accessibility. Watch the video or read the full blog below to learn more about how medical records are stored, the benefits of each, and how to stay compliant.

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

EHRs are digital records of a patient’s medical history. Using an EHR system has many benefits, including providing a bigger picture of the patient’s overall health, rather than just a snapshot of clinical data. EHRs typically include medical history, diagnoses, treatment plans, lab results, and more. This information contains personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). 

You can convert physical patient charts to EHRs with medical records scanning. Scanning creates a digital file of your patient’s record that you can edit, share, and store digitally. Records are indexed for quick organization and retrieval. You can scan most medical file formats including x-ray images, EKGs, patient forms, and lab results.

After scanning, you can integrate patient charts with an EHR system. An EHR system helps healthcare providers manage their records, track retention periods, and protect privacy while in storage. Selecting the right EHR system is critical, as you will want a system that provides efficiency, usability, and high security.

Physical Document Storage

You can maintain physical medical record storage off-site to free up office space while keeping records safe. Old records that you rarely access, backup tapes, external hard drives, and other media can be stored together to minimize costs and meet retention period requirements.

You can access files as needed, including emergency retrieval services, without the headache of managing the files yourself. Physical records provide a reliable way to back up digital information as long as they are protected. Secure storage facilities offer fire, flood, and theft protection.

Compliance and Training

The greatest challenge regarding medical record storage is compliance. Not only will you need to rigorously protect privacy, but you must also remain up-to-date and compliant with recordkeeping regulations. A disorganized or poorly managed record system can lead to huge issues, fines, and violations. 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA protects all forms of PHI, physical or electronic (ePHI). The HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule require specific protections to be in place to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of health records. They also cover guidelines for employee training, analyzing risk, and information management.

HITECH’s Meaningful Use

The HITECH Act was passed to expand the use of EHRs while also tightening rules to protect privacy. The concept of “meaningful use” promotes patient-centric utilization of EHRs that require how information is exchanged and protected. To achieve meaningful use, an eligible provider must meet all 15 core objectives of the program and at least 5 out of 10 of the menu objectives. A certified EHR system will help you meet and maintain HITECH compliance. 

Find Secure Medical Record Storage Solutions with Record Nations

Record Nations provides secure medical record storage for EHRs and physical files. We can help you select the right storage options to maintain compliance and organization for your practice. Give us a call at (866) 385-3706 or fill out the form to receive free, no-obligation price quotes on storage solutions near you. 

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