Healthcare Data Management Lessons from Academic Medical Centers


The 200 Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) in the U.S. have a reputation for pioneering research, education and clinical care using advanced technologies. With access to clinical trials, academic affiliations and other resources, AMCs report some of the strongest patient outcomes. New information sharing guidance for AMC researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other data management demands are driving AMCs to update their data management tools to keep pace with medical advancements.

Three reasons for health data management from academic medical centers

Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) offer some of the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art medical treatment options in the country. With a focus on treating and teaching, AMCs provide patient care as well as education for the next generation of healthcare providers in partnership with at least one medical school. Some of the 200 AMCs nationwide also conduct academic, medical and other research.

Generally, AMCs tend to have better patient outcomes compared to non-teaching hospitals. This is attributed to their advantage of academic affiliation and resources, allowing them to become hubs for clinical trials and physician training.

While most AMCs also are teaching hospitals, not all teaching hospitals are AMCs. The difference is:

  • AMCs are affiliated with medical schools and confer medical degrees.
  • Teaching hospitals have medical students, residents and other healthcare professionals in attendance who are finishing or continuing medical education. Teaching hospitals do not issue medical degrees. There are about 1300 teaching hospitals in the U.S.

The largest AMCs ranked by number of residents and interns include:

  1. New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center
  2. Tisch Hospital (New York)
  3. University Hospital (Ann Arbor, MI)
  4. Yale New Haven Hospital (New Haven, CT)
  5. The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, MD)
  6. Cleveland Clinic Main Campus (Cleveland, OH)

Something new for AMCs is there are some AMCs that are opening stand-alone clinics in retail locations. UCLA Health now is in three malls across Los Angeles County. The goal is to reach more new patients and link them to the entire spectrum of care offered by the health system.

AMCs have a responsibility to share information and expertise to inform treatment options and improve patient outcomes.

Information sharing is vital to expanding the benefits that AMCs offer. As interoperability efforts continue to expand across the healthcare continuum, the National Institute of Health (NIH) released a Data Management and Sharing (DMS) policy for Intramural Investigators (tenure-track scientists) at AMCs to encourage more robust sharing of scientific data. This information sharing initiative aims to further promote the development of new treatments and medical products.

AMCs can stay ahead of the curve on ethics and data governance. The three primary ethical considerations in healthcare involve clinical ethics, research ethics and healthcare disparities. AMCs have a responsibility to adhere and teach the highest ethical principles. In research, there continues to be an increase in the complexity of information and issues, which has led some academic medical centers to offer formal research ethics consultation services to assist clinical investigators with tasks related to research design and implementation. Looking at Data Governance Leadership opportunities, AMCs need to maintain oversight of faculty practice plans to ensure alignment with the organization’s mission and support physician leadership to strengthen the academic mission within large health systems. A strong AMC governance program supports the goal of having a leading-edge teaching and research program that provides high-value patient care.

AMCs can prepare students/individuals for more real-world scenarios involving technology and data literacy. AMCs can equip students with leading edge abilities that help them utilize technology solutions. This helps the student learn how to use, interpret and analyze data. This approach can empower students to thrive and continue to advance their critical thinking alongside the use of leading technology solutions. AMCs have a distinct role in bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and actual application.

Improved clinical outcomes can extend beyond AMC facilities. AMCs are noted to have spillover effects on better patient outcomes for patients treated at non-AMCs, in the same market. A study on spillover outcomes of 22 million hospitalizations of older Medicare beneficiaries at U.S.-based acute care hospitals found that those who received care in a market with a high AMC presence had lower mortality and more healthy days than those treated at non-AMCs. Some of the spillover benefits are attributed to:

  • Sharing clinical staff among AMCs and other nearby medical facilities
  • More nurses and physicians per capita since physicians tend to practice near where they trained.
  • Disseminating best practice/latest protocols
  • Newly trained physicians with the latest training
  • Timely transfer of seriously ill patients

As AMCs lead the way in pioneering medical advancements and training the next generation of providers, they need data management tools that serve their evolving needs. This matters because information sharing is becoming more of a focus for AMCs, both with the NIH guidance and industry interoperability requirements. In the examples below, we’ll examine how three AMCs are making strides forward with their data management efforts.

Three legacy data management lessons from Academic Medical Centers.

Lesson 1: Improve workflows with a one-stop-shop for comprehensive access to all health data.

Consolidating data silos and utilizing one EHR (such as Epic, Oracle, MEDITECH, etc.) across an organization offers the opportunity to decommission legacy servers and migrate the clinical, financial and business records to an active archive like HealthData ArchiverTM to continue to meet record retention requirements. In many cases, the go-forward EHR would only include a year or two of recent data and the remaining records stored in an active archive with a Single Sign-On integration from the EHR for streamlined access.

Lesson 2: Conduct annual reviews of all IT systems/software and consolidate data silos, including accounts receivable (A/R), by following a legacy data management strategy.

An accurate and updated inventory of IT servers and applications is important. The system inventory gathers details like product and vendor name, product version, database size, image store, server location, maintenance cost, contract dates and more. It’s vital to know what data you have to inform a thorough legacy data management strategy.

Accounts receivable applications kept up and running to collect outstanding patient billing and insurance payer claims is unnecessary with the addition of HealthData AR ManagerTM. This industry-leading active archive solution offers A/R wind down capabilities including transaction posting, automated collection agency management and complete collections functionality.

Lesson 3: Develop a standardized process that positions the organization for future legacy data archiving and decommissioning projects.

For one academic medical center in the northeast, the move to Epic left nine legacy EMRs that housed 3,000 legacy clinical, financial, and business software applications spread across 13 data centers that needed a data management strategy. The AMC turned to Harmony Healthcare IT to help with this long-term project.

The multi-year data management program includes a standardized process that positions the organization for future legacy data archiving and decommissioning projects. Working with an experienced vendor that offers an active archive, HealthData ArchiverTM, integrated with Epic supports the goal of harmonizing legacy data while keeping active and historical patient records in sync and available.

How can AMCs and other healthcare providers create legacy data harmonization with a new go-forward EHR?

Information access and sharing is vital to every area of healthcare. Patients, providers, payers and other participants need proven solutions to support information sharing requirements. While EHRs continue to evolve with better capabilities, those that are no longer needed can be decommissioned with the data migrated to a secure active archive.

There are many benefits to including an active archive, including:

Care quality that improves clinicians’ workflows with Single Sign-On to the active EHR.

Time savings for HIM, Clinical and Revenue Cycle users who need access to legacy records.

Cost savings from maintenance contracts, hardware, and reduced staff time.

Decreased risk for technical vulnerabilities by decommissioning outdated systems.

Are you part of an Academic Medical Center or other healthcare organization focused on a better approach to lifecycle health data management?

We can help you learn from other organizations and benefit from our experience with more than 550 unique clinical, financial, and administrative software brands.

We stand behind our ranking as the number one data extraction, migration and archival company for four years running.

Contact us.

Jan 03 2024

Ready to learn more?

Contact us today to learn more about our healthcare data management solutions.

First Name *
Last Name *
Email *

Healthcare IT tips, guides, news & more delivered to your inbox

Sign me up