Application Retirement at AZ Alma

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Application Retirement assures system-independent conservation of vital patient information and saves time and budget.

AZ Alma is a private consolidated hospital with more than 500 beds on campuses in Sijsele and Eeklo. As in every modern hospital, the necessary patient information (in digital form and otherwise) is expanding – information that is of vital importance for doctors and nurses and that they always must be able to consult. IT systems, however, have a limited lifespan but the data contained within them will always have to be available. Indeed, a patient is granted a longer life span than an IT system. A solution was pressing. But it had to be a future-oriented solution.

Application retirement

Application Retirement separates obsolete applications and the information stored within them to keep that information available longer than the application itself. In this way, vital data can remain usably archived. And this concerns both the core and auxiliary systems and the shadow IT or, in other words, the many individually constructed Excel, Word, Access, and other files. Ideally, all of this information is consolidated in one central location, clearly structured and conveniently ordered. More information, insights and advantages about application retirement can be found in this Whitepaper

AZ Alma is a consolidated hospital

Collecting all of the information in one location is a major challenge for a consolidated hospital. Information was situated in several sites, and it has to come together in one place. And that is what is being done at AZ Alma. A new central solution for patient records (EPR) is being implemented whereby two existing applications (electronic medical records, EMR’s) are being phased out. So a deliberate choice was made to transfer information from these existing applications to an Electronic Patient Archive (EPA). Of course, a transition phase is provided between the two applications, and new patient records are immediately included with existing data. Application Retirement can then begin.

What was also important was the deliberate choice not to take over data from the two existing applications in a structured manner. Moving information from the old EMR’s into the new EPR while maintaining data structures and information integrity (i.e. quality), turned out to be impractical and would come at a substantial financial cost. This challenge was immediately anticipated in the integration of the new EPR and the EPA. Between the EPR and the EPA, the data will be systematically exchanged in a structured layout. In addition to securing the information and keeping all of it available in EPA, by choosing this approach, AZ Alma assures that all of the data remain available when the current EPR system is retired at some point I the future.

Strategic decision

Fritz Defloor, Director of ICT and Administration, AZ Alma: “If we consider the life cycle of a patient of about 90 years, and we see that IT applications and systems have to migrate every four to eight years, then, from a business standpoint, this constant migration would obviously cost an enormous amount of time and money. Not just to do it but also to remove inevitable errors and to cover the knowledge that disappears or, still worse, the price of data that become untraceable. A modern hospital must prepare itself as well as possible for the future both for the patients and for its own organization. Choosing Docbyte’s Electronic Patient Archive in combination with their Application Retirement solution is, for AZ Alma, a deliberate and future-oriented strategic decision. It made us focus on the need first to secure our data in an archive. If AZ Alma would later opt to implement another EPR system and to retire the present system, then all of the information in EPA is available, and the question of data migration no longer arises.”

Why Application Retirement?

Application Retirement comes into its own when hospitals merge, of course, but not exclusively. It is also necessary to assure migration to standard software, to resolve compliance issues, to provide business continuity, to identify risks and to quantify risk management.

But the fundamental answer is: because information has to remain and applications change and die. Because endless conversions are obsolete and become counterproductive because of the data and quality loss, which, of course, involves increasing costs.

Each hospital and even each organization has to give serious thought to the importance and the availability of vital information, not just to “parking” it in an archive but also to how this information – which is not always being intensively used – will still remain a vital component of business operations in the future. And there are solutions to these problems. AZ Alma realizes that.

More advantages can be found here