• Release of information is a state mandate with turn around time as low as 10 days
  • States also mandate medical records retention periods sometimes as long as 10 years from date of service
  • Don’t assume your old EHR data will remain forever

How often have you seen this happen? Emma, the superstar of the old EHR system that was retired 18 months ago, is gone on vacation and that happens to be the exact time a patient chooses to walk in with her attorney asking for Release Of Information (ROI) of her old medical records. Other users who may have known how to run the ROI reports in the legacy system are too busy with new assignments or no longer in your payroll. The pressure is on!

Some hospital CIOs may know that the time period within which a state requires a medical record to be provided to a patient once it is requested can be as short as five days. The Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is in fact more lenient and gives 30-day time period. The key is to ensure that staff know the retention and release laws and have the ability to fulfill the release of information request.

How quickly we forget old ways! No one can be blamed for forgetting how to use old software. Just try switching back to Microsoft Word 2003 running on a Windows 98 and look for the menu which prints documents in landscape view. Good luck with that! Minimum medical records retention period varies from state to state but at a minimum it is five years and can go up to thirty years in some states (see infographic). Imagine logging in into a legacy EHR which you stopped using four years ago to get that discharge summary report! Do you even have access anymore?

Triyam always recommends our customers have a formal data archival plan. When archiving, it is best to use the simplest reporting format possible. Make sure to use an archival system that is easy to navigate and requires no training. (Yep, such systems exist! Were you ever trained on how to use Facebook or Amazon?) Follow these guidelines for EHR data archival and maybe the next time there is a patient asking for their five-year-old lab report, you don’t have to wait for Emma to come back from her cruise.

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