Healthcare facilities typically handle a multitude of medical records at any given time. This information is essential for providing a picture of a patient’s medical history, and healthcare organizations are required to retain such records for a certain number of years depending on federal and state laws.
These documents hold confidential patient information, and while it’s beneficial for organizations within a community of care to share this data among themselves, it must be protected from outsiders. That’s why the vast majority of office-based physicians (86%) have adopted electronic health records for enhanced security and organization. However this still leaves nearly 15% still using paper documents, according to data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
Relying solely on the use of physical medical records not only slows processes, it opens up the chance that data will be lost or destroyed. Transitioning and managing to digital healthcare data has its challenges, which is why many healthcare facilities are employing a trusted hosting provider to handle these operations.
The real risks to healthcare data
There’s been a lot of research surrounding data breaches in the healthcare industry. HealthcareIT found that year over year, the price to recover from a data breach increases. In 2019, it cost $429 to replace a single lost or stolen record. While this highlights the toll of losing an electronic record, it’s likely that losing a physical copy of a patient’s medical record is just as, if not more, costly.
While electronic records have many lines of defense and are secure, maintaining physical paperwork typically means if one is lost, it is truly irreplaceable. The cost of this can be hard to calculate, but losing a multitude of records at the same time means practices need to scramble to patch together a new medical history of each patient.
Typically, the argument for keeping paper records is that physicians have more control over their data. How would information become lost or stolen if it’s kept under lock and key? Well, think of it this way: Back in 2012, the ONC reported that one healthcare association in New York lost 1,500 paper records during Hurricane Sandy while systems reliant on electronic systems remained safe. While this is just one instance of losing paper records, it’s not the only nor is it the last time.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and fires all pose a very real threat to physically stored healthcare data. One powerful natural disaster or freak accident has the power to wipe out countless hours of important patient information that is nearly impossible to replace.
How the cloud can help
Trusting an experienced hosting provider can ensure all your important information is secure and easily accessible no matter where you are. But why use a hosting service when you have access to your own computers, you may ask? Unfortunately, your internal data network is just as susceptible to the previously outlined risks as paper documents. If you keep all of your important data on an in-office computer it can still be destroyed or stolen, and your efforts to take your medical records online are all for naught.
Hosting your EMR with a trusted third-party provider ensures your data is secure and you have an experienced IT staff to help with all of your needs. With your data safely hosted on the cloud, you have all the information you need at your fingertips and the beginnings a disaster recovery plan. You also have the peace of mind that if the worst occurs, the important medical information of your patients is guarded so you can resume serving your patients when it’s safe to do so.
What to look for in a cloud provider
Not all cloud providers are created equal. Before seeking out help transitioning your data to the cloud, it’s important to research potential partners to ensure they hold up to healthcare standards. Here are a few qualities to look for in a hosting provider:
- HIPAA Compliant: While there’s no official certification for hosting, HIPAA Journal explained that a solid provider will have a robust firewall and prevention plan, data encryption and strong authentication controls.
- Multi-device support: Your facilities likely utilize multiple laptops, desktops and tablets on a daily basis. Data should be accessible from all of them.
- Ownership of proprietary data: Some hosting providers may keep your data hostage when you decide to leave. Ensure your information is still yours.
- Scanning and faxing capabilities: How will documents be transferred to the cloud? Scanning functionality allows for a seamless transition from paper documents to electronic records.
- Support: Does the provider only provide basic connectivity support, or are they equipped to actually support your EMR application.
Tangible Solutions created Happe-MDs as a full-featured cloud-based service. As experts in the industry, you can sit back and relax while we host and enhance your EMR system. Contact us today to learn more. In addition, we have created a more extensive guide to choosing a cloud-based hosting provider which you can download from here.