Healthcare organizations create terabytes of data every year in the form of patient records, lab results and medical images, hospital records, results of medical examinations, etc. State laws and the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) require providers to store this information for years, sometimes even decades. As a result, health data archiving should be a key component of an organization’s overall IT plan. In considering a data archiving strategy, health IT leaders should consider a variety of options to meet the needs of the target audience.

Table of contents:

  1. What data is stored in healthcare?
  2. What is healthcare data archiving?
  3. What is legacy data archiving?
  4. What are the regulations for the storage of health data?
  5. What are the pros and cons of cloud services for health data archiving?

What data is stored in healthcare?

Common types of healthcare data include: Electronic Health Records (EHR) – Digital versions of patient medical charts, EHR contains information about patient health status and medical history, lab and test results, and other such data.

What is healthcare data archiving?

Healthcare Data Archiving is the migration of patient data from outdated legacy systems to a single archiving platform that maintains long-term patient records, enables healthcare organizations to comply with regulatory requirements, and allows them to retire legacy clinical applications to reduce costs and maintenance.

What is legacy data archiving?

As such a dynamically developing field, the healthcare sector has accumulated so many assets, technologies, systems, physical and virtual environments, etc. over the years, that now it practically overflows with legacy healthcare software. This includes legacy data archives (storing patient histories, individual records, internal data, etc.) that need more reliable storing means, as well as equipment and systems that were introduced 10-15 years ago and now require proper support and maintenance. 

This is where timely data migration in healthcare facilities and advancement to a new, smoother, and faster-running EHR is essential. The underlying processes of legacy data archiving and moving data to new environments are usually carried out by properly qualified service providers, either with special tools or platforms. However, healthcare organizations still need to know the specifics, so as not to get lost in all the nuances. 

What are the regulations for the storage of health data?

In the USA— the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare providers and other Covered Entities to retain medical records for six years, measured from the time the record was created, or when it was last in effect, whichever is later. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other individually identifiable health information (collectively defined as “protected health information”) and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically.

The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without an individual’s authorization. The Rule also gives individuals rights over their protected health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, to direct a covered entity to transmit to a third party an electronic copy of their protected health information in an electronic health record, and to request corrections.

What are the pros and cons of cloud services for health data archiving?


  • It is less expensive than traditional on-premises IT setups. Cloud providers make resources readily available via a subscription which allows businesses to pay only for the services they need, resulting in even greater cost savings.
  • The ability to transfer data quickly and easily from one workstation to another is high with cloud services
  • That it provides better security and disaster recovery is, perhaps, the greatest advantage of the cloud in the healthcare setting. 
  • It provides a higher level of security. All cloud-based health solutions must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This includes security measures, but also extends to protocols for patient privacy, enforcement of laws, and breach notification procedures. This is considered one of the highest levels of security certifications as it ensures patient data is adequately protected and secured.


  • There are also significant risks that each healthcare organization must face when transitioning to cloud-based hosting. Turning over data, security, availability, and control to a third party means that your company has absolutely no control over where its data actually lives
  •  Data availability, error limitations, disaster backup, and rapid response times. Most vendors will have far more capabilities than an individual user. 
  • Unauthorized disclosure of information results in severe consequences to the organization and significant costs in recovering and restoring data as well as notifying affected individuals.