By 2025, global estimates suggest 463 exabytes of data will be created each day. While it is difficult to picture the overall volume of data in the world, one visual is that with 44 zettabytes of data in the current digital universe, this represents 40 times more bytes than stars in the observable universe. While some of that new data doesn’t need to be stored long term, experts predict that about 7.5 ZB (zettabytes = 1021 bytes) of data will need a long-term home in 2025, up from about 1.1 ZB in 2019. This is a 581% increase. In healthcare, current estimates suggest a single patient generates close to 80 megabytes each year in imaging and electronic medical record (EMR) data. Bottom line: The amount of patient health data is increasing exponentially, which means the amount of legacy EHR data is skyrocketing as well. Plus, with additional data demands such as tracking major health outbreaks, staying abreast of the latest information on treatments and vaccines, tracking patient diagnoses and treatments across multiple providers and supporting the growth in telemedicine, the role of health data has never been more critical. As healthcare IT expectations continue to evolve with expectations of secure patient data storage within a care community, it is smart to put a strong active archive solution in place that provides similar one-stop access to historical patient records. Health Data Volumes Increase Faster Than Any Other Industry The overall volume of all electronic data doubles every two years. However, healthcare data outperforms this estimate and is expected to be the highest data growth business sector with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36 percent through 2025. Healthcare organizations are faced with managing this tremendous amount of patient data along with an increased demand for real-time access to complete patient records. In conjunction, they must streamline their application portfolios to decommission legacy applications and keep protected health data stored and accessible for compliance, research and reporting. A legacy EHR active archive is an intelligent decision as part of an overall health data management strategy for saving on legacy system maintenance cost, labor burden and technical risk. Making Archived Patient Data Available to Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) Many healthcare organizations have implemented, or are in the process of working with private or public HIE solutions that enable numerous healthcare organizations to securely store and share medical data for their patients. The federal government has incentivized participation in HIEs, offering states grants to form them and medical providers extra money if they sign on. A patient data archive can also be made available to the HIE and further benefit patient care. The Difference Between Data Backup, Archiving and Active Archiving Having a solid legacy medical data storage and retrieval plan is a smart step forward in managing historical patient and operational data well into the future. It is important to understand the specific differences between data backup, archive and an active archive: Backup – creates a copy of data and restores it in case of data loss or corruption. Archiving – frees up expensive capacity by moving less frequently used data to more cost-effective storage locations Active Archiving – uses highly scalable archive systems with intelligent software. The software uses rich metadata, indexes, directories, tags and more to enable high-performance search and information retrieval. An active archive such as HealthData Archiver® is a long-term medical data storage strategy that reduces or eliminates legacy system management costs. Secure, compliant, long-term PHI storage in an electronic health data archive solution helps manage the legacy application portfolio, minimizing the volume of legacy EMR, ERP, GL, Accounting or HR/Payroll applications, saving on maintenance contracts, mitigating technical risk, and reducing labor burden. With an active archive, outdated legacy systems can be decommissioned and ROI can be expected within 12-18 months. Connect with our team for more info on how an active archive could be a cost-effective, secure solution for your historical records. Editor’s Note: This blog has been updated from an earlier post on August 3, 2018.