case study

A Case In Point: A Case In Point: Healthcare system progresses from inconsistent records retention practices to records management compliance

Client: A large healthcare system that includes several hospitals and outpatient clinics

The challenge: Although patient medical records were automated, staff did not always follow record retention guidelines. In addition staff members were not always aware of the applicable retention periods for specific types of records, and levels of compliance varied from department to department. The bulk of the patient medical records were in a uniform electronic format, but many administrative records remained in hardcopy, on departmental computers, or on other media such as CDs.

Client's goal: To reduce the legal and regulatory risks of not complying with records management requirements.

Our role: Implementation of a system-wide records-management program began with the directive that each department head designate a records officer for the department. Re- publication of the records retention manual, intensive training of the records officers, and the introduction of a records inventory process were the next major initiatives in the process.

Initial staff reaction was far from positive. However, as implementation progressed, some departments realized that they were keeping certain records well beyond the mandated retention period. In many instances, bringing such files into compliance freed up high-priced storage space that could be better used. The new filing structures and the elimination of unnecessary duplication also freed up clerical staff time. For a number of departments, the records inventory process proved to be the first step in streamlining some antiquated, labor-intensive document processing procedures.

The result: Records-management compliance was embedded within each function, and compliance was achieved without the addition of dedicated staff members.