The Physician Has Left the Building: Now What?

It’s no secret that managing medical records is a full-time job in and of itself. There are retention policies to adhere to, HIPAA regulations you have to meet, and system upgrades to perform just to name a few.

But who manages a physician’s medical records when he/she is no longer in the picture? Whether it’s a merger with a larger entity, retirement, death, or going out of business, there comes a time when a physician will no longer practice.

It’s a valid question, considering the number of actively licensed physicians over 60 grew to 29% between 2010 and 2016. Another survey found 48% of the 17,000+ surveyed plans to decrease hours or speed up their retirement.

However, questions from insurance companies and lawyers will likely still come up from time to time long after the physician is permanently out of the office. This poses the question how will you retain the EHR records in those situations?

Legacy Data Plan

If your practice is among the many who are in this boat in the next couple of years, it’s time to focus on your legacy data plan. This basically consists of putting a plan into action for securing electronic records for the long term. It’s not just for questioning patients and organizations either; it’s required by law. When a physician is selling the practice or merging with a larger entity, having a ready archival record is a great asset, which makes the deal very attractive.

Although some states have different guidelines or laws, the following recommendations are standard for retaining medical records:

  • Adult patients, 10 years from the date the patient was last seen.
  • Minor patients, 28 years from the date of birth.
  • Deceased patients, five years from the date of death.

In California, where there is no statutory requirement, but the California Medical Association recommends that medical records be retained indefinitely or for at least 25 years after the patient’s last visit.

This may seem excessive, but medical record retention ensures better quality care for patients long-term.  For this reason, it is up to providers to thoughtfully plan ahead and put a legacy data management strategy in place, especially if they’re closing up shop anytime soon. This is where data archiving comes in.

Data Archival

An archival system is a separate system from the EHR you’re leaving behind.  When users sign into the archive app, they can access all of the legacy data.  Depending on their user rights they may see all or some of the historic reports and data stored and organized in the system. And an EHR data archive costs only a fraction of the cost of a EHR.

For example, in the archive you can see all patients and their historic charts, medications, treatments, billings, insurance claims, payments, and more. You will also be able to see historic employee records, payroll and accounts payable information.

Solution

Fovea is Triyam’s EHR data archival system. With Fovea you will have all of your data at your fingertips when you need it. Once legacy data is archived in Fovea, you can dismantle and retire the legacy EHR and stop paying support fees to the legacy vendor. Fovea also boasts a long list of capabilities perfect for when someone is going out of business but may need to access records later, including:

  • Powerful search engine to search, query, filter, and retrieve historical data
  • Rich, easy-to-use functionality to download, view, print, or email information
  • Cloud management of data storage, backup, and HIPAA security/privacy compliance
  • Presentation of patient information in a visit-by-visit or a longitudinal view over entire life-time of the patient
  • Information can be accessed and viewed by computers, laptops, iPads, and mobile devices

And because it’s In the Cloud the archive vendor (that would be us in this case) is responsible for many of the concerns surrounding security. We take care of privacy, redundancy, backup, disaster recovery, and compliance to HIPAA and other regulatory requirements, so you don’t have to.

If you’re ready to get started with your retention plan, you can learn more here.