Healthcare facility data is complex, voluminous, and requires strong security protocols to comply with HIPAA. Managing healthcare data can be an incredibly difficult process without the right practices. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to effectively migrate health data.
Data is the world’s most valuable resource, and healthcare produces some of the most valuable data. The medical sector generates and stores massive amounts of highly sensitive information, which means it must take its data operations seriously. Healthcare data migration is one of the most challenging data operations to perform securely and efficiently.
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As trends such as telehealth and digitization continue to grow in the healthcare industry, these already enormous data volumes will also increase. This growth will mean that many healthcare organizations will need to migrate their data at some point, which is a process that requires careful planning.
What is health data migration?
Health data migration is the process of moving medical information from one location to another. With 96% of US hospitals Using electronic health records often means moving patient records to a new EHR platform. Alternatively, some medical organizations may migrate data from a hospital to a new physical location.
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The migration of health data can also concern non-patient data. For example, you may want to transfer financial information or other organizational records to a new system, whether migrating to the cloud or transferring data centers.
Another reason to migrate health data is to create more space for new data on higher capacity storage media. You may also decide to transfer to a new storage platform to improve your cybersecurity or regulatory conformity.
Best Practices for Health Data Migration
Regardless of the specifics, migrating healthcare data involves copying and/or moving potentially sensitive information, which poses considerable risks. Here are some best practices to follow to minimize these risks and ensure a smooth data migration.
Review all applicable standards
The first and one of the most important steps in migrating healthcare data is ensuring that your data complies with applicable regulations. Your organization and its information may be subject to several regulations such as HIPAA, the California Consumer Privacy Act or the General Data Protection Regulationall of which dictate how you can store certain types of data.
It is important to review these standards to see if you have data with specific legal requirements. For example, while data covered by HIPAA is CCPA exempt, some information from HIPAA-compliant companies is not. Failure to recognize this data and apply the necessary safeguards in your new system could create legal issues.
Assess and organize your data before you move
Many parts of the migration process, including meeting regulatory guidelines, are much easier when you have sufficient visibility into your data. Before you move anything, it’s important to audit your data to determine what you have, where you store it, how you use it, and any specific security needs. This information will guide your decisions on what to move and how to move it.
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You probably don’t need to migrate all of your data, so you should assess it first to see what’s most critical. Because 75% of Americans over 65 have multiple health conditions, you may have more elderly patients than any other demographic. Therefore, it makes more sense to focus on moving senior patient records to a more secure or scalable platform.
Alternatively, you may have several unnecessary copies of certain information, so you should remove superfluous files before migration to ensure a smoother transition. Reviewing and organizing your data will reveal these needs for a more strategic migration.
Carefully choose your migration tools and storage systems
It is also important to choose your next data storage medium carefully. Look for a solution scalable and reliable enough to handle larger volumes of data while meeting your organization’s security requirements. Likewise, review any data migration tools you use to make sure they’re secure and work well with the types of data you’re moving.
If you work with third parties like cloud providers or software vendors, check their history and certifications to see if they have a strong security track record. Incidents like the Red Cross Data Breach highlight how weaknesses of third parties may affect your data. To avoid this kind of issue, confirm that these parties are trustworthy and follow best practices for data governance and security before granting them access to sensitive data systems.
A simple but easy to miss step in health data migration is backing up your most important data. Errors can occur during migration, even with careful planning and reliable tools, and your information is too sensitive to assume that these errors will not happen to you. Creating secure backups of all critical data before migration will ensure that migration issues do not lead to data loss.
SEE: Best backup software (TechRepublic)
HIPAA sets strict backup requirements for protected health information, which are excellent guidelines even for data not covered by HIPAA. Look for a backup solution with encryption, strong authentication controls, and monitoring features. Cybercriminals can take as much of your backups as data from your main storage medium, so it’s important to keep them safe.
Form and follow a detailed migration plan
Finally, make sure to create a formal and detailed document data migration plan for when and how you will move your data. This plan should include the following details:
- What data you are going to move to a new location.
- What tools you will use to move it.
- What time and date you will move each data set.
- How you will back up your data.
- Who is responsible for each step of the process.
- What to do if something goes wrong.
The more specific your plan, the easier it will be to move your data. Also, make sure you can easily share this information, as mistakes are less likely if everyone understands their role and knows who to turn to with questions.
Migrate your data with confidence
Migrating healthcare data can be daunting, but with careful planning, it can be a smooth and secure process. To get the most out of this move, start by knowing what you need from your migration tools and systems and what can go wrong.
SEE: Data governance checklist for your organization (TechRepublic Premium)
With a detailed data migration plan, you can ensure your data operations are scalable, secure, and compliant with applicable law. From there, your team can make health data actionable for patient and organizational outcomes.
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