As electronic health records (EHRs) now dominate the healthcare industry, many are left wondering what to do with their old paper records.  While old paper records are rarely needed for release of information requests, occasionally there may be exceptions.

Medical Record Retention Periods

Covered Entities and Business Associates are required to maintain their documentation and medical records of adult patients for a minimum of six years in accordance with federal regulations in §164.316(b)(2)(i). Individual states may have retention policies exceeding six years.  Additionally, individual practices create their own information governance policies, which dictate how long medical records will be kept after the six-year period.  Thus, retention policies differ greatly not only by state, but also by medical practice.  These policies can come into play when fulfilling a medical records request.

When could a request require paper records?

Most medical records requests require records over a period of the past few years.  Many practices have utilized EHRs for periods longer than what most medical records requests look for, making the instances where paper records are required few and far between.  For instance, most Continuity of Care and requests for legal purposes require just the past few years of documentation.  Most of the time these requests can be fulfilled with what is captured in the EHR.

Even so, occasionally a request will come through that looks for records longer than the practice has been on an EHR.  If this is the case, defer to your records retention policy.  If you still maintain the paper records in accordance with your policy, then they should be included in the request.  Based on the type of request, you can determine if you scan these records into the EHR, or if you provide them via paper copies.

What if the paper records have been destroyed?

Rarely an organization will receive a request which contains a large date range in which the pertinent records have been destroyed.  In the instance this occurs, you can respond to the requestor that no records have been found outside of the specific timeframe, and this is likely due to the enforcement of the records retention policy of your practice.

What if I still have a lot of paper records?

If your organization maintains a significant amount of paper records, ScanSTAT is happy to help find a solution that works best for you either by scanning the records in bulk or facilitating an offsite scan on demand option.  Both scenarios free up your clinic space as well as making your information governance processes easier.

Release The Records Requests

Release the burden of dealing with records requests, paper or otherwise! As an industry leader in release of information processing requests in an unparalleled 24-hour time frame with 99.97% accuracy, we’re happy to take all records requests off your plate so you can return to focusing on patient care.  To continue the discussion and see how we can help make a difference in your practice, reach out to us today to schedule a demo.