Healthcare Records Disaster Recovery
The Paper to Digital Transition
The healthcare industry has always been reliant on paper records, and probably will be for some time to come. This does not mean the industry should ignore converting its paper records into digital formats using the wide range of document imaging and scanning solutions that are available today. Paper to digital conversion can not only enhance access to medical records and information but it has major benefits for disaster recovery too.
Having generated vast quantities of paper documents over the years, converting them into digital documents is always going to be a challenge. When these vast quantities of paper documents contain sensitive patient information and are subject to strict regulations, then converting them to digital documents may seem like a nightmare.
Shifting your Healthcare Records and Information Management (RIM) into the digital age may seem like a daunting task, but it is a necessary one.
Document Disaster and its Treatment
Prevention may be better than cure, but sometimes no matter how healthy you think you may be you become ill and need medical attention. Likewise, your clinic may have the neatest patient filing system around yet an unexpected disaster can still wipe out all your hard work in an instant.
The answer to disaster prevention and recovery lies in a Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan. One could say that this component of your Healthcare Records and Information Management Programme plays the part of the doctor.
Patient confidentiality and the accompanying legal implications are not easy hurdles to overcome when you are considering converting paper records into digital ones. Nonetheless, imagine the life threatening ramifications and legal issues that might occur where patient medical records get damaged or destroyed due to some disaster. Now imagine you have no backups and a patient needs treatment and is allergic to certain medications.
The need for a paper to digital transition in the healthcare industry suddenly becomes overwhelmingly apparent.
Administering an Effective Treatment
Records, like patients are not always easy to treat. How does one go about implementing a Disaster Recovery plan as part of your Healthcare RIM Programme?
As part of a Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan, you will need to do the following:
- Evaluate your Documents and Records
Knowing and understanding what information you have and how it is used is vital to being able to organise it and assess how they should be backed up and archived.
- Create an inventory list of all your records
- Categorise each type of document and describe how it is used
- Record the location of each document
- Determine how often each document type gets accessed and if it needs to be accessed quickly
- Determine what regulations may apply to each document type and if they are subject to doctor patient confidentiality.
- Look at the available Data Backup options
Now that you understand your records better you will be able to determine, which document types are critical and need to be recoverable should disaster strike.
A few things to look at include:
- Assessing the available backup options, this may include Tape Backups, Disk Backups, and Cloud Backup options. Determine which of these backup options will be best suited to your documents types and can they be used to backup sensitive information. Also find out if they allow for swift retrievals and if they are secure?
- File-Tracking Software can help you manage in-house records more effectively.
- How much space could you free up by sending certain documents to an off-site storage facility for archiving?
- Do you need professional assistance from a Records Management Company?
Trying to implement a Disaster Recovery Plan, never mind a comprehensive Healthcare Records and Information Management Programme on your own is likely to be a difficult undertaking. Partnering with a specialist just makes sense and can make for a smooth pleasant experience.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting your partner:
- Can they provide you with all the services you require?
- Do they operate state-of-the-art facilities that meet security and safety standards or exceed them?
- Do they have the knowledge, experience needed to assist you?
Digital Information Technology has changed the way businesses run, these changes apply to the Healthcare industry no less. While these changes may be disruptive at times, they also present opportunities. Clinics and companies alike can now implement better, more cost-effective RIM Programmes and benefit from swifter Disaster Recovery Processes.
Iron Mountain is at the forefront of Records and Information Management Technology in South Africa. With over 15 years of experience, and the ability to roll out customisable solutions Iron Mountain can deliver.
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