Smart Legacy Data Management Reduces Cost and Risk in Healthcare

Tom Liddell, CEO, Harmony Healthcare IT
Tom Liddell, CEO, <a href='' rel='nofollow' target='_blank' style='color:blue !important'>Harmony Healthcare IT</a>

Tom Liddell, CEO, Harmony Healthcare IT

In healthcare, we continue to see the market consolidate. Headlines produce a now familiar story: independent and often smaller, non-profit providers and institutions merge with the larger healthcare systems in an ever-changing landscape. When this happens, the newly acquired providers and institutions are put on a path to adopt the same technology as their new parent organization. Electronic Health Records (EHRs), practice management, and countless other scheduling, HR, finance, and supply chain management systems are often converted to new systems to maintain uniformity across the growing healthcare system. 

Market consolidation creates unique challenges for healthcare data.

At the same time, though more behind the scenes, an Electronic Health Record (EHR) market continues to consolidate as well. During the emergence of EHR technology, and later with the onset of federal and state Meaningful Use incentive programs nearly a decade ago, the market exploded with consumer options. Today, that picture has drastically changed with countless product sunsets while the EHR vendors themselves go through mergers and acquisitions of their own. Healthcare provider and healthcare tech consolidation leave an important and unique consideration: what to do with the patient data in the legacy systems. Leaving the old systems up and running drains IT resources and invites cybersecurity risk.

Legacy data may be historical, but its relevance in daily patient care is undeniable. Aside from legal and regulatory compliance requirements to maintain patient data for at least seven years, a provider’s ability to treat a patient effectively is dependent on a complete and total picture of that patient’s health record. In a fast-pacedcare environment, how can a healthcare provider make informed care decisions for his/her patients without real-time, functional and integrated access to their patient’s history? 

Enter a legacy data management plan.

When we talk about successful legacy data management, we start all the way at the beginning. Before a new EHR system conversion begins, the provider organization gathers an inventory of legacy systems that the new EHR will replace.  An accounting of the type and volume of data that each legacy system holds is documented.  Analysis then occurs for each data element stored. What is it? How is it referenced and visualized to improve care? Where does it live in the system? Why does it matter? What are its characteristics? All of this analysis informs what will happen to this data as the legacy system is retired. For each client, the plan will look different. Are there needs for data migration to new systems or retention in an integrated third-party system? Do some portions of the record require proper destruction while others require secure long-term storage? Will the data need to be included in ongoing population health management and quality reporting? From initial consult and design to the final destination, the legacy data must be managed thoughtfully and precisely. To do this well requires expertise and process, but also the right technology.

The tech itself is important. The challenges of legacy data management require sophisticated software tools that can protect, read, interpret, and mine data in near real time. Even more crucial is to do so through a simple, user-friendly interface. Providers rely on a consolidated view of patient clinical data, integration with their EHR, and smart data that works in lockstep with the plan for care. Ultimately, the goal must be to provide seamless access to the right patient data in the best format to the provider of care while mitigating risk and assuring data security in a volatile environment. 

Today, the stakes in healthcare are higher than ever.

In the midst of a pandemic, providers are feeling the pressure and the strain from every angle. At Harmony Healthcare IT, we embrace the whole client, consider the broad challenges they face, and then zero in on the best solutions. How can we support our frontline heroes and empower them to provide the best care possible? We take our role seriously. Our legacy data management experts lead the industry and bring unmatched expertise. Our process is paramount, and our products and services have earned numerous awards and industry recognition. Legacy systems left running too long can often be a drag on internal resources and vulnerable to external security threats. Now is the right time to let data experts hone in on how legacy data management can be improved within each center of care so that our healthcare workforce can stay focused on what matters most, with the support they deserve.