If you’ve ever watched the television shows that detail the lives of collectors and hoarders, you’ll understand the comparison I’m about to draw. These shows follow the challenges of people who have trouble parting with their belongings, and how they try to recover from this compulsion. Funny, that’s the view a lot of healthcare chief information officers (CIOs) seem to take these days — they cannot part with medical images even after they’ve reached the legal retention period. So, they just store these medical images forever. With hoarders or healthcare CIOs, I’m puzzled by the compulsion to hang on to everything.
Let me elaborate on the comparison I’m drawing. In the case of healthcare CIOs, they face incredible challenges managing the explosive growth of medical images. Rather than taking a long-term view of the challenge, many have simply opted to add more on-site storage capacity to their self-managed data centers. Thus my comparison to the hoarder who refuses to let go of belongings and opts to “build a bigger barn” or pile their own house so high with possessions that there’s no reasonable method for cataloging or finding anything.
The healthcare CIO’s road to recovery
As viewers watch TV hoarders on the road to recovery, the healthcare CIO has a road to recovery as well. The forward-thinking ones are starting to see that they can’t manage this challenge alone and seek help. They turn over the burden of self-managed, on-site medical image storage to cloud-based, highly secure service providers, paying only for the storage they need. Along the road to recovery, they uncover the value of being able to categorize their medical images by image type, patient, date, etc. This way, they can actually (gasp) purge some of the images they are no longer required by law to retain.
One person’s treasures are another’s excess
Now some healthcare CIOs might argue that keeping everything is an easy way to meet regulatory requirements for retention of patient medical images. That argument might have some validity until you consider the perspective of the healthcare chief security officer (CSO) or chief financial officer (CFO). The CSO could maintain that holding on to images beyond the required retention period could expand the number of medical imaging records susceptible to the eDiscovery process, leaving the organization unnecessarily vulnerable. And the CFO could question why their organization is paying for something (storage costs) no longer needed when every healthcare dollar today is so vital.
Time for an intervention?
There is help for healthcare CIOs who struggle with keeping all their medical imaging records, including outdated ones. For example, AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management is a cloud-based, highly secure service for storing, accessing and sharing medical images. With a solution like this, outdated medical imaging records can be purged, the CIO hoarder is on road to recovery, and precious healthcare dollars can be spent where needed most – making a difference in the quality and cost of care.