March 2018 Newsletter – Meaningful Use Program
In 2011, the U.S. government introduced the Meaningful Use program relating to the digitizing of Medical Records. This was an incentive based program to get your historical medical records digital and into an Electronic Health Records Solution.
In 2014, the next step was to focus on advanced clinical processes and promote the ability for patients to have access to their health information on-line.
In 2017, The Meaningful Use is still developing recommendations and continuing to expand on to better our result in healthcare.
Below are some observations within the industry and perspective on why to keep these records.
- Challenges: Some medical facilities have not addressed the overwhelming task of getting patient records digitized for lack of funding, fear or many other reasons.
- Benefits: Scanning your patient records provides better access time and security of patient information.
- Challenge: Storage costs for a four drawer file cabinet are a minimum of $2,150 per year (Price Waterhouse Study). How many storage units do you have? How long does it take to get this information?
- Benefits: Storage costs can be eliminated. Customer service experience is positive when providing patient records. HIPAA compliance is improved when using Software.
Accordingly, in Nevada there is a five-year medical record retention requirement. Patient records “may be retained in written form, or by microfilm or any other recognized form of size reduction, including, without limitation, microfiche, computer disc, magnetic tape and optical disc, which does not adversely affect their use…”
Key considerations in defining medical record retention policies, providers should include:
- Nevada laws governing the retention of certain medical records;
- Federal laws relevant to the retention of medical records;
- Nevada’s statute of limitations relating to medical malpractice claims;
- Practical considerations relating to the retention of medical records.
Healthcare providers may want to retain patient records longer than the statute of limitations for tax purposes in order to provide documentation of billing, services rendered, and monies received in case of a tax audit. Basically this means the retention could be modified to 7 years.
With so many variations of how long to keep records, the legal community has suggested the best approach is to retain medical records of adult patients for at least 10 years after the patient has been discharged and retain medical records of minors until 10 years AFTER the minor has reached the age of 18 years old.
Lastly, maintaining a record retention policy and applying it consistently can reduce the risk of penalties for destroying records that are relevant to a potential or pending litigation.