The medical records that you retain are invaluable assets for delivering solid care for your patients. In order to fully benefit from them, they must be stored in a manner that makes the information you need accessible without compromising the privacy of a patient. That being said, here are the medical data storage practices that you must engage in for best results, according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario:
Always store medical records in chronological order
Storing your medical data in chronological order is critical for properly taking care of your patients. Doing this will help your stored medical data tell a story about any changes in a patient's medical history, and how different factors have contributed to their current condition; this allows for more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Medical data that is out of order, on the other hand, can complicate the true cause and effect for a patient's medical condition.
Make sure that your medical data is securely stored at all times
As you know, there are government and industry standards for how secure your patients' medical data needs to be. You must be aware of who is accessing the records at all times, while protecting them against those who are not authorized to access them. While they must be highly secured, you cannot lock them in a vault either, as they are expected to be reasonably accessible by your organization, other medical organizations providing your patients care and the patients themselves. This is why many medical organizations are scanning their medical data en masse to store them as digital files instead of as paper documents.
Protect all of your medical data from being lost
Lost or destroyed medical records would be devastating for your medical organization's ability to properly care for a patient. That is why all of your medical data must be regularly backed up. For physical medical records, this means investing in both additional production resources and a secondary location, because according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, your back-up copies should be stored in a “physically secure environment separate from where the original data is normally stored." Electronic medical records (EMRs) must have strongly encrypted duplicate files stored as backups for your patients.
Choose a good EMR vendor when transitioning to digital storage
As many of the facts throughout this article show, the best way to optimize the storage of your medical data begins with converting all of your paper medical data to digital files. That being said, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario makes it clear that you should "exercise due diligence" so that you can choose a high quality EMR vendor. You should take care in choosing a quality vendor for the following reasons:
- To make sure that your medical data is fully secured
- To make the management of your medical data efficient
- To make it easy to share your medical data
- To make it easy to convert current and future paper medical data into EMRs
- To streamline your EMR services by keeping them all under one roof
For EMRs, this type of quality should always come first for your medical organization, especially since OntarioMD provides funding for "acquiring, implementing, and adopting EMRs and related resources" under their EMR adoption program.
Make sure that your medical data storage system boosts your efficiency and stays in line with federal guidelines
When you engage in the best practices discussed in this article, medical data storage becomes an efficient part of your medical organization's workflow, rather than a problem that devolves into a difficulty. Getting your medical data storage system in line begins right now.