Hospitals are often growing, acquiring new facilities and systems to expand their reach and services. This growth can lead to increased revenue and better patient outcomes. However, obligations like those related to medical records custodianship represent hidden or overlooked costs.
Managing the records and custodianship of the acquired facilities constitutes one such cost. In this post, we’ll explore what happens when hospitals acquire new facilities, their obligations for managing records and custodianship, and the most cost-efficient way to approach this task.
What happens when acquiring a facility?
When a hospital acquires a new facility, they assume control of all its records, both active and “inactive.” Of course, no medical record is truly “inactive” until reaches its retention point and can be securely destroyed.
These records include medical records, but also financial records and administrative records, among others. The hospital must manage these records and ensure their security and confidentiality.
What are your obligations for custodianship?
Custodianship is the act of storing, accessing, retaining, and destroying records. As the custodian of the acquired records, the hospital must maintain them according to legal and regulatory requirements. This includes ensuring that the records are secure, accessible only to authorized personnel, and retained for the required period.
This also means the acquiring hospital or physician must manage access, keeping records available for patients when they’re needed. Patients need records for a variety of reasons, including continuing medical care or legal discovery. In either event, the acquiring hospital is responsible for their timely production.
What’s the right way to approach custodianship?
Custodianship of newly acquired records requires intense management and a diverse array of processes. It is not something that can be done haphazardly or without careful consideration. The hospital must ensure that they have the appropriate personnel, resources, and systems in place to manage custodianship effectively.
The complexity of managing newly acquired records stems from the complexity of the existing management protocols of those records. Multiple or varied electronic medical records systems, varied forms and methods of storage, and the presence or lack of a destruction policy all influence the issue. The lack of any defined records management protocols in newly acquired records heightens the complexity even more.
An alternative option: purchase custodianship services upfront
An alternative option for hospitals is to purchase custodianship services upfront. This means that the hospital engages a third-party vendor to manage the acquired facility’s records and custodianship. This approach can save the hospital time, money, and resources that would otherwise be spent on managing custodianship internally. Additionally, it ensures custodianship according to legal and regulatory requirements, helping prevent costly fines and penalties.
Third-party custodianship doesn’t stop at simple aspects of management, like secure storage. Secure storage and access to records is the foundation of records custodianship, but thorough third-party custodianship providers offer services reaching far beyond the basic needs. The best custodianship options offer upfront opportunities to outsource more complicated aspects, like EMR systems management, to a more capable or qualified third-party team.
Third-party medical records custodianship for your hospital or practice
The hidden costs of hospital growth can have a significant impact on a hospital’s bottom line. Medical records custodianship of acquired records is just one of the many costs that hospitals must consider when expanding.
By understanding their obligations and taking a proactive approach to custodianship, hospitals can avoid costly mistakes and ensure that they are compliant with legal and regulatory requirements. For those who would rather avoid the headaches of custodianship, purchasing custodianship services upfront may be a viable alternative.
If this post resonates with you as a hospital administrator or medical service provider, contact Cariend to learn more.