Recent industry publications point at a hospital closure rate in the U.S. of approximately 30 each year. It’s a trend that has been building with increased mergers and acquisitions changes in reimbursement models technological advances that make it possible for patients to seek more and more services from outpatient facilities As a result, many smaller hospitals—particularly those in rural areas—are finding it difficult to keep their doors open. Preparing for the Unexpected In consideration of market trends contributing to hospital closures, each facility should develop a comprehensive legacy data management plan that accounts for an unexpected exit. Both state and federal laws provide guidance on this topic in an effort to ensure patient data is not only protected but also available upon request after doors are closed. When developing a plan for your 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 local or state health department 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 this plan in place well before a facility closure so that you can avoid fallout from the unexpected. Safeguarding Patient Records Before and After Facility Closure 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 Archiver®, is a critical piece of the puzzle for hundreds of hospitals around the country safeguarding protected health information for the long haul. Contact us to learn now HealthData Archiver® can help your facility to plan for the future, no matter what it may hold.