How do you make patient records private and compliant, but still accessible?

Michael Graetz

Michael Graetz

VP of EMEA Healthcare Sales at Information Intelligence Group – EMC

Here at EMC we spend a lot of time discussing data security—and nowhere is the subject more thorny than the medical field. Patient records need to protected, but also instantly accessible to authorized medical teams. The best-designed systems do more than store documents efficiently. They empower staff and inspire patient confidence, often in unexpected ways.

In preparing for EHI Live 2014 (November 4-5 in Birmingham, UK, exhibit booth D31), I discussed these challenges and opportunities with our friends at Fortrus, a UK-based EMR development company that partners with EMC in the medical field. The Fortrus team are veterans of the very difficult rollout of the U.K.’s nationwide medical records systems.

“You can never be lazy about protection and safeguards,” says Project Manager Fraser Stewart. “You need to treat patient safety like cash, because it’s every bit as valuable. Organizations that fail to understand this risk public distrust.” Fraser cites this as one of many factors that doomed the UK’s original NHS IT system.

David Hutchinson, Fortrus

David Hutchinson, Fortrus

Fellow Fortrus project manager Adam Miller and Operations Director David Hutchinson explain how to protect EMR data without impeding a medical staff’s ability to do its job.

“The key,” says Adam, “is to provide tools enabling every facility to choose its own levels of access, while avoiding overbearing security.” Part of the burden rests on the provider of the EMR solution, building on time-tested protocols inherent in the best data repositories “like audit trails that track every click.”

But customers must also do their share.

Adam Miller, Fortrus

Adam Miller, Fortrus

“IT departments must maintain constant vigilance,” adds Adam. “The best teams will perform regular penetration testing, keeping a step ahead of hackers.”

When medical staff feel confident that their technology keeps out the “bad guys,” they’re much more at ease about sharing information with the “good guys.” And that, says Adam, enhances patient care.

“Once you can see a patient’s total record trail, from all his visits to many hospitals, you learn additional crucial details that help you figure out more things, leading to better diagnoses.”

“Many doctors don’t collaborate nearly enough,” adds David. A powerful solution that rapidly and efficiently displays patient records from multiple facilities encourages clinicians to reach out to each other, down the hall, across town, even across the country, to share, to brainstorm.

“When everything was on paper,” says Fraser, “it was difficult to access records from other hospitals. Too many doctors could not be bothered to dig deeper. Now it’s much easier not only to collaborate, but to examine patient data in new ways, which can yield previously unavailable answers.”

What is the biggest challenge you see around keeping patient records private and compliant, but still accessible?

Three Streams that Feed a Plant

Joe Morray

Joe Morray

EMC Information Intelligence Group Worldwide Energy and Engineering Practice

Customers handle complex plant processes all day long. Yet many admit they’re not sure how to tackle plant information strategically across departments and locations. Our energy & engineering expert Joe Morray starts a blog series by pinpointing the main categories of content “powering” today’s energy plants.


Many of you might wonder what the heck this headline has to do with energy and engineering. Obviously, I’m writing about a different kind of plant (power, refining, etc.) and different streams (as in work processes and the flow of information).

A Plant’s Work Streams

A process or power plant represents a highly complex set of physical components, Power Plant and Streamactivities, and interdependent information, but I will argue that there are fundamentally
three work streams that require our attention. Defining these is important, allowing us to identify and map the information that feeds each one, and thus effectively navigate the streams. Two work streams are well known, with major systems available to address them:

  • Maintenance management and work order processing:  Fueled by information that helps plan and execute preventive and reactive maintenance activities, the information includes equipment details, tag information, and repair procedures. Information is typically maintained in a maintenance management or CMMS system.
  • Plant operations and the process control: This requires the vast data delivered by the plant digital control system and allows the efficient and safe operations of the plant.

There is a third stream which is enacted every day, though occasionally not distinguished from the two above:

  • The plant information management work stream, which we call the management of the Plant Information AssetThe requisite information to support these activities includes operating information (specifications, drawings, schematics, etc.), management of change documentation, procedures, training materials, and regulatory/licensing documentation.

The Third Work Stream

I have often seen the information for this third work stream spread across numerous repositories, shared drives, paper, and all forms of personal computers. Ther3 Work Streams that Feed a Power Plante is no consistent or current view of data, and thus there are significant implications to plant efficiency, safety, and compliance.

The lesson we have learned over and over again? Having a consolidated set of electronic information to flow through the third work stream is critical. And it does not come from the CMMS system or the process control system.

I’m Missing Information – Where Do I Start?

It’s helpful to first understand your plant’s position in the information maturity spectrum.  A good starting point is to compare yourself to the maturity model in this eBook.

In my next blog, we can discuss real-life examples of what is often overlooked if the third work stream is misunderstood or left unaddressed. We can also detail the many benefits incurred when maintenance management and content management applications work in synergy.

Regardless of your stage, align your applications and systems to span all three work streams and their related information sets. Any questions or comments? Share your feedback below.

Overcoming challenges with patient outcomes, costs and compliance by archiving clinical data

Andy Crowne

Andy Crowne

Leading IIG (Information Intelligence Group) activities within Healthcare and Life Sciences.

The healthcare industry is struggling to adopt a patient-centric approach to care while facing increasing challenges for better outcomes, lower costs, and regulatory compliance. But even as providers adopt electronic health records, the goal of creating a more complete view of the patient continues to require access to multiple clinical systems for patient data and associated documents. As healthcare organizations face these new challenges, however, they are experiencing a rapid growth in the volume of all forms of information. Their current applications and older legacy systems are bursting with information—patient data, clinical and administrative documents, voice recordings, and medical images—all serious challenges we discussed earlier this month in the first of our four-part series around integrating and accessing inactive patient information.

In this second installment, we’ll continue where we left off last month by discussing how to best navigate the compliance conundrum, and outline the steps that should be taken when considering the business case for clinical archiving and application retirement.

Navigating the compliance conundrum
To avoid compliance risk, healthcare organizations need to retain patients’ clinical data for mandated timeframes. Retention laws require that even when patient health data is no longer needed for day-to-day access, it must be purposefully retained and preserved long-term.

Patient Record Lifecycle

Providers typically keep adult and pediatric medical records longer than the time recommended by industry guidelines and regulations, often retaining them permanently.

Regulations also require that data be maintained in an immutable, tamper-proof environment to prevent it from being altered or deleted. Records must be secure and private, and auditors need to be able to trace user access to this information.

Yet keeping older information in production applications can actually lead to noncompliance exposure. And maintaining old systems takes critical resources away from new installations, as IT staff, already overwrought, must manage an intricate blend of several legacy platforms. If support is inadequate, the risk is high that data in these systems will be exposed to unauthorized users, leading to a costly data breach, stiff financial penalties and an Continue reading

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees in Life Sciences?

Lori McKellar

Lori McKellar

Director, Market Development, Life Sciences

People usually use this phrase when trying to describe the tendency to become too involved in the details of a problem versus looking at the situation as a whole. Could thissunrise in a forest same concept apply to an industry such as life sciences?

During our webcast, “Improve Compliance by Gaining a Complete View of Regulatory Activity” held earlier this week with IDC, we polled the audience.

  • The first polling question asked, “Which of the following is a primary concern at your organization today?” 37.5% of the respondents answered, “Eliminating data silos and creating a unified information architecture.”
  • The second polling question asked, “What would you consider to be your highest RIM priority in the next 2 years?” 57.9% of the respondents answered, “Centralizing/integrating systems to unify RIM functions (single authoritative source.)”

In an industry where most life science organizations have historically taken a siloed approach to product development—that is, they create, manage, and store information by function (clinical, regulatory, manufacturing etc.); could these survey results indicate a potential opportunity for transformative change?

Well, let’s start with how information flows across the lifecycle of a drug in a pharmaceutical company today. As a new compound is discovered and goes through non-clinical and clinical testing, information must be shared internally with Regulatory Affairs (and ultimately with health authorities) in order to gain approval. Information from across the drug development process must be shared and overviews, study reports and summaries authored, reviewed and approved. Once an application is submitted to the regulators, there are on-going interactions with them through approval, and then continuing on for the life of the drug. Upon approval, specifications and formulas which originated in R&D, now have to transfer to production manufacturing. And the process continues on through sales and marketing, pharmacovigilence etc.

So, what would the process look like if it was redefined? How transformative could it be? What if information residing in each functional area could flow seamlessly throughout a drug’s lifecycle? For starters, workers wouldn’t have to export and import information from Diagrammsystem to system along the drug development lifecycle. By leveraging a consistent data model, information could be linked across solutions. This could reduce the risk and inefficiencies of manually exporting and importing information, stem the proliferation of multiple copies and eliminate the difficulty associated with determining final versions of documents. In addition, this would provide an authoritative source for drug development information and provide detailed audit trails across the process. Most importantly, it could help streamline the process helping to get needed drugs to market faster. This makes sense, doesn’t it? Organize information according to the business process and lifecycle of products rather than by business function.

What do you think? Do you think your organization is beginning to see the forest that includes the trees and embark on this type of transformation?