May 14, 2021
Most healthcare providers will, at some point, retire an old or legacy IT system – typically an electronic health record (EHR) or billing system. However, for reference and regulatory purposes, the data in that system may need to remain accessible.
A well-established option converts these types of systems into a data archive—a separate system from the new one you implemented that exists for the purpose of retrieving historical data—that is compliant with various retention needs.
In evaluating the ROI (in this context, return on investment, as well as release of information) of archiving needed data, it’s important to weigh the hard costs of the project against the ongoing maintenance costs of the old system.
An important additional consideration is that of staff training. At the initial sunsetting of the old application, this doesn’t appear to be an issue; the staff is familiar with the old application and knows where to get the information they need. The archive, on the other hand, is a new tool, and will require training.
However, in the longer-term a typical organization will naturally undergo staff turnover. The new staff will be trained on the primary system, of course, but they will also need to know the old system, which presents a significant obstacle. Production systems are not designed for training efficiency or to be used for legacy purposes. Over time, older systems are less intuitive than newer ones. This is a particular issue when usage is sporadic and users need to refer frequently to guides (if they even have them).
An archive, however, is a far simpler application that is typically maintained to evolve with current technology and design trends. A new user may need just a 15–30-minute orientation to learn the necessary functions. As an actively supported application, issues or questions related to the archive are resolved quickly. This benefit is multiplied for organizations that put in place a broad strategy using a single platform to archive multiple legacy systems in a unified, consistent framework.
Of course, archiving legacy systems data also offers long-term savings in terms of hardware/software licensing and maintenance, which is the benefit most initially think of. As outlined above, in situations where legacy-systems data must be retained, a robust archive solution also enables savings in staff training and productivity.