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Managing Legacy Data in Healthcare: Migration and Archiving Guide

Being the dynamically developing field it is, the healthcare sector has accumulated so many assets, technologies, systems, physical and virtual environments, etc. over the years, that now it practically overflows with legacy healthcare software. This includes legacy data archives (storing patient histories, individual records, internal data, etc.) that need more reliable storing means and equipment and systems that were introduced 10-15 years ago and now require proper support and maintenance. 

This is where timely data migration in healthcare facilities and advancement to a new, smoother, and faster running EHR is essential. The underlying processes of archiving and moving data to new environments are usually carried out by properly qualified service providers, either with special tools and platforms. But you still need to know the specifics not to get lost in all the nuances. 

Let’s go through the ins and outs of the process — why exactly it should be done, how it is done, and how you can actually start to manage healthcare software data more efficiently.

Defining Data Migration in Healthcare

Data migration as part of a legacy system upgrade or modernization is the process of transferring data assets from a legacy system to a new hospital operating system environment. This is done in order to implement a major system update and smooth out the overall performance in line with the modern requirements. Considering how much healthcare application data is accumulated and stored in medical facilities worldwide, this aspect becomes more and more relevant with each passing day.

Types of healthcare data in healthcare facilities | ModLogix

This is also backed by the huge importance of the patient data held in legacy database solutions — the ultimate data processing safety and failproof operation are crucial so as not to undermine or lose personal details, medical records, etc.

As much as the process is crucial, it has its sides of the coin. Namely, you get several benefits while migrating the data, but you also have to watch out for related risks and pitfalls. Let’s take a look.

Healthcare data migration benefits

  • Higher productivity. Staff employees are encouraged to work with data in intuitive, automated conditions, eventually smoothing out the overall workflow and getting to handle more work faster and with less effort.

  • Higher reliability. Replacing legacy systems in healthcare means staying in tune with all the reliability-boosting benefits new advanced security protocols and software management methods bring to the table. 

  • Faster overall performance. The newer and more up-to-date your healthcare software systems are, the faster performance they will show — it is as simple as that. 

  • Cut costs. The cost of maintaining legacy systems can be unreasonably high, as you may have to deal with software that ceased receiving updates and getting support from both creators and third-party vendors a long time ago.

  • More potential for innovation. Modern healthcare IT systems open vast horizons for further expansion into advanced infrastructures powered by powerful technologies such as Big Data and AI.

  • Higher customer satisfaction rates. All the above benefits can be summarized into the excellent ability to carry out and deliver all sorts of healthcare services faster and more effectively, helping you satisfy the demands of your customers all around.
Healthcare data migration steps to follow | ModLogix

Healthcare data migration issues

  • Storing and accessing data optimally in healthcare infrastructure. Many companies still consider data migration and required system upgrade an unnecessary one-time event. This isn’t true, as the data will continue to accumulate, and traffic management opportunities will be needed to timely expand further if you are operating long-term.

On top of that, adopting a new healthcare data storage solution, you must abandon old yet closely familiar practices and adjust to the updated conditions, which may take time and spawn certain complications among the staff of workers (implementing the UI of a centralized portal should be an efficient solution here). 

  • Constant data accumulation. Be it a legacy operating system or a new one, data will continue to grow and occupy more space, and you need efficient means of sorting this out. (The most optimal means of storing and processing endlessly accumulated data may be resorting to cloud solutions and backing everything up with data archiving. This is akin to a daily routine.)

  • Dynamically changing data. All stored patient entries must be updated, corrected, and expanded in real-time, which calls for a well-thought-out, seamless frontend that won’t require too much effort from the staff that got used to old systems.

  • Misunderstanding data specifics. Healthcare and clinical data can come from numerous applications in various formats, quality, and encryption complexity. That’s why the thorough definition and distribution of data across proper fields of use must be elaborated to manage migrated clinical data in new EHRs smoothly and efficiently.

Legacy Data Archiving — What’s it All About?

Healthcare facilities of all sorts all over the world generate astoundingly immense amounts of data every single day. And most of it has to be stored for an indefinite time according to legislation. Legacy data archiving allows storing the data in a cost-effective manner. At the same time, specialists and managers get to access all the stored data any time they need, while they are also saving tons of hardware space through data archiving.

Alternatively to the path of the full-on data migration, archiving platforms help you simply archive all the data that’s not in active demand at the moment and access it only when there is a direct need. In the meantime, data archiving is also a substantial part of the full modernization of legacy data systems in healthcare. Let’s learn more about the process.

Healthcare data archiving advantages

  • Significant budget savings. You can forget about the data-focused expenses of managing legacy data systems in the healthcare facility and many unexpected costs; employing a data archiving solution, you only need to cover operational fees, which are often one-time.

  • Better standards compliance. Achieving compliance with HIPAA and other regulations may as well be the main goal of implementing data archiving (we explain more on this below).

  • Avoiding conversion fees. Moving massive amounts of data from legacy healthcare systems to new solutions can be unreasonably expensive. In contrast, you can save on conversion fees if you archive the data you don’t require regularly.

  • Productivity boost. Similarly to full-on data migration, a convenient interactive data archive that runs fast and smoothly streamlines the overall performance of the medical establishment’s staff, while legacy archive data management is a breeze.

  • More convenient access and higher data availability. A good data archive is an immense database of records that you can access and pull out what you need when you need it without any issues.

Healthcare data archiving risks

  • Loss of data or damaged data assets in the process. This may happen to the best of us (the archiving process is pretty complex and cumbersome). Still, everything should work out fine if you have true professionals handling the archiving and avoiding common healthcare data migration problems.

  • The other side of compliance. The compliance with regulations is listed as the benefit up above; however, this can also be risky if you fail to fulfill all legal requirements properly in the process of archiving, which, again, rests on the shoulders of technical specialists.

  • Unreliable provider. Ultimately, the proper expertise of the migration/archiving services vendor should prevent risks and mistakes while, sadly, there are still many underqualified providers that simply don’t have what it takes when it comes to seamlessly modernizing a legacy healthcare application. 

Archiving or Migrating — What to Focus on in Your Case?

Both approaches are quite similar in nature and complete each other. But there are some core differences. Simply put, full-on data migration is a more complex and resource-consuming process, while archiving is a stage of the process that’s more about backing up and saving both storage and data management efforts. 

In particular, data archiving is commonly applied as a legislation-optimizing measure. In terms of the data migration strategy targeted at achieving particular business goals, data archiving is a necessary step in making long-term data retention completely legal. It helps better establish all-around compliance with global healthcare regulations by reducing data loss risks while keeping all medical records in order and easily accessible.

Legacy System Integration with EMR Case Study

Legacy System Integration with EMR Case Study

Hospitals, medical centers, etc. also often have to update their means of healthcare systems data management when a medical establishment is undergoing a:

  • merger with another facility or full-on acquisition of a business;
  • software infrastructure replacement;
  • relocation or shut down of an establishment.

Archiving may also simply take place as part of data migration, where the data is archived while all the technical stuff is implemented and the new system is being prepared.

Moving healthcare data completely is more about the complete revitalization of the system or platform switch — when the hospital or medical center finds a newer, higher-performance system and decides to advance on to it, staying in tune with the times. 

What's better: migrate healthcare data or archive it? | ModLogix

However, data archiving isn’t always a necessary task here, while it can also be implemented separately when a medical establishment already has a running up-to-date data management system but lacks a virtual archive. Different legacy system modernization approaches may fit you according to your business specifics and migration goals.

ModLogix’s Expertise and Pro Tips 

ModLogix is a software modernization services vendor with extensive experience in the field of healthcare implementations. We have been integrating data for the market-leading healthcare providers and can help you reliably migrate or archive your healthcare data without undermining any of your infrastructure aspects.

We can also become your trusty consultant to clarify any questions on legacy application modernization and show you how exactly you should achieve the sturdiest, smoothest healthcare data storage or other related solution. 

But what can we tell you right away is that extracting or migrating data to and from EHR systems is always a complex, effort- and expertise-consuming task. For one thing, you must understand the ins and outs of one’s legacy IT system and the data you are working with, while also making sure that your data migration/archiving vendor has the proper amount of the required expertise.

It is crucial to have only profiled field specialists let work on the modernization of legacy data systems. For this:

  • Ask the potential vendor to validate the idea and evaluate the existing legacy user interface;

  • Implement a single-sign-on integration to make your system more accessible and vendor’s life easier;

  • Make sure the vendor has all the required technical resources and can provide a high level of project security.

Final Thoughts

Legacy systems in healthcare have had their time to become a real issue and a nuisance. And, right now, modernizing data migration in the healthcare industry is a complex yet crucial step that every healthcare provider must take to make everybody’s lives easier and contribute to the timely progress in the industry. ModLogix is your software modernization company of choice when it comes to smooth and long-term profitable legacy system integration, full-on renovation, optimization, or data migration services for healthcare facilities of all sizes. So feel free to contact us for more detailed discussions on the subject.

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