Deciding what to do with patient records from decommissioned EMR systems can be a stressful and confusing process. Because of this, many organizations rise to that challenge with the most natural possible response to complex decision making – procrastination.
Fortunately, there is one very simple thing you can do to greatly increase your chances of successfully meeting your data retention obligations, whenever you are ready and whichever route you choose; VERIFY YOUR BACKUPS!
EMR applications rely on database management systems to store data. On many older systems, those database backups are not necessarily part of the regular ‘full system backups’ that cover the operating system, installed applications and other files on the EMR server. We have seen many cases where organizations thought they were doing regular backups only to find that the data they valued most was never included in that process, often because the database files were in use while the backups were running.
In other cases, automatic database backups may have been occurring for years but stopped at some point due to a service account password change, drive space issue or other disruption. Alerts may go out to email addresses that no longer exist. The problem goes undiscovered until somebody attempts to restore a server and finds that the last good backup of EMR data is from an application version upgrade that occurred three years ago.
We have been able to pull off some amazing saves with some highly compromised systems but we can’t work with data that no longer exists. If you are not 100% sure that your old EMR system could be completely recovered after a catastrophic hardware failure, it’s time to talk.
Carlos Sandi, Chief Technology Officer