What to do with your Vital Records!

Do you remember the arguments used to convince business owners to store files at a storage facility as opposed to using up valuable retail/office space?

The average file cabinet holds about eight boxes worth of files. The same cabinet consumes about 9 square feet of floor space. If you are paying $15 per square foot annually for office space, these eight boxes cost you $135 per year to store or $16.88 per box per year. The average cost to store a box in a commercial records center is $3.75 per year. This translates into a monthly box average of 31 cents for storage, plus 15 cents in service fees (indexing, retrieval,etc.)

Many businesses need help managing not just storing their records so they can meet operational needs, accountability requirements and community and government expectations. News-grabbing headlines have thrust records management and corporate accountability into the spotlight. Today’s world is one of terrorist attacks, fraudulent accounting, natural disasters, and non-compliance with government regulations. As a result, society is demanding higher standards for the accuracy and availability of a paper trail.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is legislation enacted in response to the high-profile Enron and WorldCom financial and is administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which sets deadlines for compliance and publishes rules on requirements. Now this Act states that all business records, including electronic records and electronic messages, must be saved for not less than five years. The consequences for non-compliance are fines,imprisonment, or both. It does not tell you how to store them nor does it assist with business processes. It leaves you to work those details out.

Keeping company records properly, accurately and securely is increasingly a crucial part of any business. Records management allows people to make better decisions faster, transforming their organizations into smarter enterprises. And, of course, corporations need to document their plans for vital records and business resumption in the event of the unthinkable. Most disaster plans require records to be maintained Offsite within a specified distance.

RETENTION WITHIN ERM-
When you create electronic forms of patient charts and/or medical records, retention of both the electronic versions and the original paper documents is essential. One of the greatest challenges healthcare organizations face with ERM is developing a culture for retention management. A retention schedule can specify what documents should be destroyed when. It should take into account the business’ need to retain documents,patient records and HIPAA documentation, for instance, and the legal and regulatory needs to retain certain documents and destroy others.

Storing and accessing paper documents can be a nightmare in itself. Some states require that you retain original patient charts and other documentation for up to 30 years.And, for audits, insurance inquiries, and lawsuits, you’ll be asked to provide original documents. Traditional storage methods(files in boxes in basements, spare offices, or even self-storage garages) aren’t conducive to finding or protecting patient charts.

These methods also put you at risk for losing the records. Think back to news clips you may have seen after Hurricane Katrina, which showed doctors spreading patient charts on sidewalks to dry. There are local records management companies that will store your documents for you in warehouses, using bar code systems to track and locate documents.

For more information email:sales@offsitedatadepot.com

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