Resist the purge

By Gienna Shaw

Meaningful Use audits can go as far back as six years--so that's how long organizations must keep data to support attestation claims. Protect that data at all costs. 

"[We] could have fallen into the trap of having a more aggressive purge criteria in order to save disc space. Luckily we didn't," Pam McNutt, senior vice president & CIO at the six-hospital Methodist Health System in North Texas, (right) told FierceHealthIT.

"I saw people get trapped by having too aggressive a purge criteria for their systems. And then they had no recourse to fall back and prove things by looking at audit logs or polling data in an easy fashion from a data repository. That may be especially the case for smaller organizations," she added.

Another piece of advice: Back up that binder.

"We call it attestation evidence: It is critical that you know exactly what you attested against and that you do have a way to quickly retrieve and produce it. You need to really think through how that works for your organization," Elizabeth Johnson, vice president of applied clinical Informatics at Tenet Healthcare Corporation (left), told FierceHealthIT. In many organizations, this information is stored in a binder (or multiple binders) on a shelf somewhere.

"Binders are OK--everyone has a binder," she says. But "put it in a PDF so you can quickly produce it again in the future."

Think about system settings ahead of time so that patient records and audit logs contain the kind of detail an auditor will seek. Logs and system settings will help produce the data when you need it ... as long as you plan ahead.

Resist the purge