By Julie Fouque, VP of Marketing

One of the most critical functions of health information management (HIM) teams is to respond timely to release of information (ROI) requests. As hospitals, clinics, and physician practices continue to undergo mergers and acquisitions, this task has been made more difficult. Here’s why.

M&A activity drives EHR consolidation, as healthcare providers seek to make it easier for patients, practitioners, and payers to access information. However, whether moving to Epic, Cerner, or another major EHR system, in our experience most organizations only move about two to four years of data to the consolidated system. This is because the impact of moving all data from every legacy EHR to the production EHR would take too much storage space and slow performance of the main system.

As a result, a large portion of historical patient data stays on the old systems.

This isn’t surprising because EHR consolidation projects are huge undertakings. Getting everyone in the network up and running is typically the focus. What often gets put on the back burner is the whole body of historical patient information residing on those various legacy systems.

HIM staff now must:

  1. Locate information across multiple systems and provide all relevant medical records.
  2. Account for data on legacy systems in ROI tracking.
  3. Demonstrate security and compliance for patient information on multiple EHRs.
  4. And do the same in order to respond timely and effectively to audits and support successful outcomes for litigation events.

Why You Should Consolidate Legacy EHR Data

As part of the EHR strategy, healthcare organizations can take a larger view of EHR consolidation to make it easier for HIM staff to respond to ROI and other requests.

When moving the most current data to the consolidated EHR, move the historical patient information to a consolidated repository. By making all historical patient data available in one place, your HIM staff can easily locate all historical patient information so they can respond timely to ROI requests, audits, and litigation events. Clinical archives (like Flatirons Digital Hub for Healthcare), make it easy for HIM staff to add and remove historical information for ROI requests, to track all ROI requests, and to export historical information for the intended recipient.

As a plus, a consolidated repository provides security, chain of custody, and tight access controls that are harder to manage across multiple legacy systems. This reduces risk associated with data on unsupported EHRs.

If the argument for EHR consolidation is to make information access and usability easier, then it goes without saying that you should do the same for all patient data—including historical information.

In another blog, we’ll address how consolidating legacy EHR data to a single archive facilitates analytics and machine learning to advance patient care.