Hospitals and healthcare providers are aways looking for opportunities to increase savings. It’s an important aspect of business management for all healthcare facilities of all sizes: The landscape of public and private health is fluid and ever-changing, and this underscores the need to find savings whenever possible, in order to strengthen their ability to offer steady, continuing care to clients.
Often, this presents a real challenge. But with a little effort, hospitals and private practices can find opportunities to save through optimizing business processes and eliminating inefficiencies in their operations. Many such opportunities exist around health information management practices.
The Inefficiency of Storing Records
It’s only natural that records retention processes should create inefficiencies in operating procedures for hospitals and medical facilities. Often, retention periods mandated by states or other entities far exceed the active, practical life of the record.
A practice may be required to keep patient medical data for seven or more years in many cases, but most records requests will take place within the first year or two of the life of the record. After that, caregivers likely won’t need to access that record again. For most records, the longer they’re stored, the less likely they are to be accessed.
Of course, the record’s storage implies continued expense for the hospital or organization storing it, as practices work to avoid violating retention guidelines by prematurely destroying or losing track of records. Luckily, there are opportunities to optimize retention practices that can allow hospitals to achieve savings over time, all while creating more effective records management practices and staying compliant with all applicable retention guidance.
Opportunities to Save
Examining physical records storage practices for inefficiencies and habits that create confusion and delay destruction of records that are past their retention points is one of the most common ways to achieve new savings in the HIM space.
A common case will see a given set of medical records organized by name in alphabetical order, but with no included means of distinguishing between adult and minor patient records. Since minor patient data almost always requires longer retention than adult patient data, storing both types of records in the same location creates conflicts with retention schedules.
Additionally, confusion over retention policy and concerns over potentially violating such a policy creates apprehension towards destruction, leading to neglected records that become even more challenging to efficiently manage. Disorganization and confusion exacerbate the problem, increasing the cost of storing the records and making it more difficult to fulfill records requests when they do arise.
Partnering with Cariend to employ a strategy built around a one-time discovery of a hospital or medical practice’s entire record set is a possible solution to the issue of compounding inefficiencies around records storage and retention.
What Can Discovery Do for You?
Discovery is a process that implies examining the full record set, with an eye on both organization and efficiency.
First, identifying and destroying all records that are eligible for destruction already, eliminating them from the records set through a secure means of destruction. Our clients are often surprised at how much they can save by eliminating their unnecessarily stored records, and those are savings that can be achieved almost immediately.
When implemented correctly, this strategy means investing in optimized storage for increased savings over time. Beyond offloading old records that shouldn’t be stored any longer, an upfront discovery also opens opportunities to further optimize records storage and other adjacent processes.
This is because discovery doesn’t just assess which records to keep and which to destroy. It also provides an opportunity to achieve ongoing savings through better records management practices going forward. These savings aren’t immediate but are realized over time as your organization or practice adapts to more efficient records management practices.
Finally, discovery creates opportunities for things like saving on storage and reclaiming facility space previously devoted to storing excess records. Storage is a hidden cost of disorganized records, and reclaimed storage space can be converted to functions that increase revenue, furthering the benefit of records discovery. A key underlying benefit of the streamlining process is elimination of risk. By removing records that are no longer required for patient care or compliance, the risk of breach is eliminated as well.
This is one of the simplest of the many solutions and strategies available to hospitals and medical facilities interested in capitalizing on savings in their Health Information Management (HIM) departments. At Cariend, we’re well equipped to support your hospital or medical practice’s efforts to find savings in health information management. We work with a variety of hospitals and other health professionals, helping to implement such strategies to increase savings and ensure continuity of care. If you’re interested in learning more about how records discovery opens the door for savings in your medical practice, contact Cariend today.