Strategies for Reducing Data Costs in Healthcare

Updated on May 18, 2024
Health care and medical services concept with flat line AR medical doctor working with stethoscope.

There is no business today that can operate without a plan and a strategy for effective data management. It is vital for efficiency and often compliance. But, costs can add up quickly for maintaining all the data that an organization creates and stores. 

This is especially true for healthcare providers. The amount of data being created and stored is higher than ever before across numerous applications. Some health systems are managing more than 10 EHRs and working with 18 disparate EMR vendors.

As organizations contend with budget constraints, how can they keep up with paying for the cost of storing and managing all this healthcare data? As a leader in healthcare IT, I have observed the growing demand for robust archiving solutions that balance compliance requirements and user needs with cost considerations. In fact, the global market size for health data archiving is estimated to reach $9.28 billion by 2028, registering a 14.1 percent CAGR during the forecast period.

Several factors are driving the prominence of data archiving in healthcare. Merger and acquisition activity and EHR transitions can bloat an organization’s application portfolio. Also, legislative mandates like HIPAA and the 21st Century Cures Act emphasize secure long-term data storage and accessibility. Scalable archiving solutions that consolidate, protect and share patient records help address some of these challenges.

The proliferation of digital healthcare records, particularly EHRs that tend to accumulate across the enterprise, further underscores the need for efficient archiving strategies. The sheer volume of data generated daily poses a significant challenge in terms of storage and management. Budget constraints present a formidable hurdle for healthcare IT leaders. Smart strategies are essential to meeting so many challenges effectively. Let’s take a look at a few ways to reduce IT costs on a tight budget.

Review Maintenance Contracts:

Healthcare organizations continue to pay significant sums for maintenance contracts and hosting services associated with legacy applications. By rationalizing their IT portfolio and transitioning to more cost-effective solutions, organizations can achieve substantial savings. One approach is to conduct a thorough assessment of existing systems, identifying redundant or underutilized applications that can be consolidated into an archive to allow for decommissioning. This strategy not only reduces maintenance and licensing expenses but also simplifies data management and improves overall system performance.

Review Labor Costs:

Labor costs associated with managing redundant applications can be effectively reduced through increased efficiencies and the adoption of streamlined processes. By implementing advanced archiving technologies and optimizing workflows, healthcare organizations can minimize manual intervention – reducing staff hours dedicated to administrative tasks. One way to achieve labor cost savings is by leveraging automation and intelligent data archiving solutions. Automated archiving systems can categorize, index, and retrieve information efficiently, eliminating the need for manual data entry and retrieval. By automating routine tasks such as data ingestion, mapping indexing, and retrieval, healthcare organizations can free up valuable staff time to focus on more complex and value-added activities.

Organizations can also streamline processes related to legal, clinical, and administrative requests. This not only saves time but also enhances compliance with regulatory requirements by ensuring that sensitive information is accessed and shared securely and efficiently.

Review Hardware Costs:

Moving to hosted storage solutions and decommissioning servers can lower costs related to infrastructure and the power used to run the systems. Cloud platforms offer scalability, flexibility, and cost efficiencies compared to traditional on-premise infrastructure. By migrating data to the cloud, organizations can eliminate the need for expensive hardware investments and ongoing maintenance. This shift to cloud-based solutions not only reduces IT overhead, but also lessens risk by improving data security and accessibility. 

In Summary:

Navigating the surge in healthcare data and managing data costs requires a strategic and ongoing plan. By assessing maintenance, labor, and hardware costs associated with each system, healthcare organizations then can make informed decisions regarding budget allocation and return on investment for their projects. 

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Brian Liddell

Brian Liddell is CFO at Harmony Healthcare IT.