Storing patient charts requires an extra measure of care to protect the privacy of individuals per HIPAA laws. Today, most physicians and healthcare facilities have transferred patient data from paper files to digital ones, stored on a local computer or server.
Paper charts consume a lot of space in the office, could be misplaced or lost, and only one person can access the information at a time. Law requires they be guarded under lock and key and not be made available in any area where unauthorized individuals could access them. Storing a patient’s medical information on a computer saves time locating records and facilitates retrieval by an office manager, nurse, physician’s assistant or doctor no matter their location.
Medical Data Security
It is the responsibility of the medical practitioner to ensure the safety of patient charts when records are used at the medical facility and for several years after the physician retires.
Although HIPAA laws are federal and consistent from state to state, each state also has its own set of requirements pertaining to the privacy protections of patients’ medical records.
When it comes time to close a practice, the length of time records must be retained will vary by state. Even the way those records are disposed of must be conducted according to regulations. In a hospital, records belong to the hospital, not the physician. Generally, hospitals are required to maintain medical records for at least five years, but not longer than ten. This time span varies by state and can be longer for minors.
Medical Record Preservation
There are many challenges to maintaining paper records. A physician with many patients over decades will require a lot of space to store them. Ink fades over time and may be difficult, if not impossible, to read as the years go by, depending on humidity and air exposure.
Today, most practicing physicians have moved their systems over from paper to electronic records. This process involves the scanning of thousands of pieces of paper and can be far too time-consuming for staff who need to be attending to patients. This is where an electronic records storage company comes in and can perform this tedious work for you.
Practicing physicians will find they save time, space, and labor hours by upgrading from paper to digital records. Your practice should choose a medical records storage business trained in compliance to ensure records are always protected to the HIPAA and state compliance standards. Whether you prefer to store paper or digital files, Harborsafe can provide round the clock protection in either format.
Maintaining the patient charts at your location will require trained IT staff, equipment maintenance and regular updates. The hefty costs of on-site server care can be avoided by using SaaS service, software in the cloud, to securely maintain your records at a secure location that can be accessed from anywhere.
Whether your practice maintains patient charts at your facility, or you are retiring and preserving records for patient access, storing patient charts securely is a must. Having a company that understands the strict requirements and can alleviate your staff of the tedious work is the smart way to protect patient charts.