According to recent reports from the IMO GP Committee, over 660 GPs are set to retire in the coming years. If you are one of those, before you start booking your cruise or buying new golf clubs you may want to start considering what you can do with your patient files.
Safeguarding Patient records
You may already have a plan to notify your patients to allow them the opportunity to transfer their medical records. However, some patients may not be contactable in time and you still need to maintain those records with due safeguards for 8 years and then have them securely destroyed. The ability to store them electronically will make more sense when you don’t have a physical office after you retire.
Making the patient records available as digital files (such as a pdf) will make it easier for the patient to transfer them to another practice. These can be sent directly to the new GP in a secure way. Also leaving you without the headache of physical files and their management.
Before you panic at the thoughts of scanning thousands of pieces of paper, stop. A professional scanning company can take away all this headache from you and get the job done quickly and securely. Here is how it works:
1) The GP is provided with archive boxes for the files
2) The company send their driver to collect the files and will transport them to a secure facility
3) Under strict guidelines, the files are prepped, scanned and quality checked
4) They are scanned to the highest quality and digitally returned to the GP on an encrypted disk or hard drive
5) When the GP is satisfied, the old files are confidentially shredded in the prescribed manner to produce a certificate of destruction
6) Alternatively, the paper files can be returned to you
By going through this process it ensures that the GP electronic files now contain everything needed for future Patient File Access Requests. This process also allows for obtaining a second copy of a disk should a patient list be transferring to another practitioner.
Keeping a second copy of the encrypted disc in a secure location, such as a records centre or a safe at another site is a good disaster prevention measure.
So before you retire put a plan in place to have your files scanned. Having one less thing on your ‘to do’ list will leave more room for planning that well deserved break.