Managing Medical Records in the Event of Hospital Closure or Acquisition


Rural hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their doors open due to changing reimbursement models, increased service offerings at outpatient facilities, and the continued market consolidation through healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In consideration of these market trends, rural hospitals are advised to develop a comprehensive legacy data management plan that can safeguard employee and patient records. Both state and federal laws provide guidance on this topic to ensure personally identifiable and protected health information is not only protected but also available upon request after doors close.

Hospital Closure

Preparing for the Unexpected

When developing a potential exit plan for your healthcare facility, make sure to first research the medical record retention laws in your state.  The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has consolidated a summary of these laws in every state.  Take a close look at what is required and develop a plan that meets these medical information preservation guidelines. In some cases, that may mean working with a state health department or agency. In other cases, it may mean working with other healthcare facilities and providers in the area. In all cases, it is important to have a record custodian plan in place well before a facility closure so that employees and patients are able to gain access to records as required.

Safeguarding Records Before and After Facility Closure or Acquisition

With an emphasis on safeguarding patient data for the full retention period, both state and federal agencies provide a great deal of guidance. Take a look at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which provides guidance for health information management professionals who “are uniquely positioned to assist an organization in closure efforts because of their knowledge of revenue cycle operations, ability to work with the software products used to generate and store patient information, and solid understanding of the process of care and treatment of the patient.”

The team of data management experts at Harmony Healthcare IT has spent decades developing and refining solutions to help hospitals store patient data securely, economically and within the bounds of state and federal guidelines. Our data management solution, HealthData Platform(TM) , is a critical piece of the puzzle for hundreds of hospitals around the country preserving protected health information for the long haul.

Considerations for Release of Records

Harmony’s Records Release service expands on legacy data management services to support long-term records request fulfillment. Harmony serves as an outsourced records release provider to the closing facility, serving as an operational records custodian for healthcare delivery organizations of all sizes.  These services include data extraction from a legacy system, record retention in an active archive, monitoring of a web landing page for record requests, and secure record delivery for patients, employers and payers with a detailed audit trail.  This can be an ideal and secure option for healthcare delivery organizations that need it.

Contact us to learn now HealthData Archiver® can help your facility to plan for the future, no matter what it may hold.


Updated from an earlier blog originally published on Sep 06 2018


Sep 06 2018

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