storing medical data

The 5 Best Practices for Storing Medical Data

Andria Pacina

As the volume of medical data continues to skyrocket by the day, numerous challenges have to come to light in terms of data management. Several healthcare organizations are struggling to store and handle a tremendous amount of patient records and health information. Some are just simply not equipped.

Managing and storing medical data is no small feat. It’s time-consuming and involves lots of moving parts. But that is not to say it’s an impossible task to accomplish. This article will guide you through proper data storage and management.

 

Table of Contents

 

The 5 Best Practices for Storing Medical Data

What are the different options for storing medical data?

There are three primary storage options widely used in the healthcare industry. Let’s take a look at each one of them:

On-Premise Data Storage

As the name suggests, on-premise data storage means that you store your health and medical data on physical servers in your organization’s on-site data center. This option for storing medical data is popular among healthcare organizations as it offers complete control over the storage environment.

However, the downside is that on-premise data storage usually comes with quite a hefty price tag. On-premise data storage requires you to invest in expensive servers and other computing equipment. Not only that, the operating costs, including electricity, maintenance, and upgrades, are also quite costly.

Public Cloud Storage

Many organizations are switching from on-premise to cloud when it comes to storing medical data, and there are a couple of reasons why. For one, cloud storage allows for a smoother and more secure handover process or data sharing. Another advantage that makes this option for storing medical data so appealing is that it’s more cost-efficient and scalable.

On the other hand, cloud data storage is not one without faults. Downtime risks, loss of data control, and data privacy remain the primary concerns.

Hybrid cloud data storage

With hybrid cloud storage, you get the best of both worlds of cloud and on-premise data storage. You get to enjoy the scalability of cloud storage while retaining on-premise servers for better data control and increased security. Storing medical data on hybrid cloud storage also offers you more peace of mind with its disaster recovery feature, where you can establish disaster recovery protocols should things go wrong unexpectedly.

As it is a hybrid, the biggest con of this option is its complex implementation. It requires technical expertise, which means you may have to rely on a third-party provider to implement this solution fully. On that note, this storage option is also not the most cost-effective among the three.

How to choose the best storage options?

A good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing the best option for storing medical data is to assess what your organization needs for now and for the years to come. As mentioned, healthcare data is rapidly increasing in volume, so scalability is also worth noting. Of course, compliance with federal regulations should also be another critical consideration.

An important factor to consider is the safety and security measures offered by all the options. Which of the three can most effectively safeguard your data? Finally, cost should also be taken into consideration.

The 5 Best Practices for Storing Medical Data

What are the best practices for handling and storing medical data?

Choosing the best storage solution for your healthcare data is the first step to streamlining your data management system. Although the options we discussed prior promise the safety and security of your data, you still need to take extra measures to make sure that your patients’ data remain safe.

Here are some of our tips:

Educate your staff

Invest in your employees’ education. Providing them with proper training and data management education will significantly lessen human error and negligence. You can also put policies in place to better guide them in managing and storing medical data.

It’s also ideal to assign a privacy and security officer to oversee how the rest of the staff handle and manage important data.

Conduct security risk analysis

As per HIPAA regulations, all organizations that deal with handling and storing medical data need to evaluate the effectiveness of their security measures periodically. By conducting a security risk analysis at least once a year, you will be able to mitigate any risks of mishandling any highly sensitive file or document. It’s easier to identify the aspects of your data management system that need improvement when you do the risk assessment.

Store your files in restricted locations

Although the health records and patient files are mostly digital, on the off chance that you need to store physical copies of medical data, you need to have a dedicated area to keep it. Ideally, your storage area should be where there’s little foot traffic and is not highly accessible by unauthorized personnel.

Create crisis-response plan

The truth of the matter is no matter how iron-clad your security measures might seem, there will always be that off chance of a data breach. In that light, your organization has to be fully prepared for that unlikely and regrettable event. Having a crisis-response plan in place gives you and your staff a set of instructions to follow to manage the situation right away.

Transmit documents using a secured and HIPAA-compliant platform

As a healthcare practitioner, your job does not only entail storing medical data but also involves sharing them with authorized parties.

One of the safest and most reliable ways to send and receive health records and other confidential information is online faxing. Online fax service providers like iFax use military-grade encryption and are HIPAA compliant. Unlike other communication mediums, your data is a lot safe and more secured against any malicious threats if you transmit it using online fax.

The 5 Best Practices for Storing Medical Data

Securely share medical data with iFax

Strengthen your communication channel and ensure the safe delivery of medical data with iFax. For as low as $8.33 a month, you can enjoy all the amazing features iFax offers like HIPAA and GLBA compliant faxing solutions,  256-bit encryption, unlimited data storage, e-signature integration, and 24/7/365 customer support. iFax also offers programmable fax API solutions that you can easily integrate into your current system.

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