The healthcare industry has undergone a massive change in the past few years due to technological advancements, new regulations, and a significant shift from paper to electronic healthcare records. No doubt, the transformation has made patient care more efficient and effective. But at the same time, they’ve triggered a new set of eDiscovery challenges in the healthcare industry.
In this guide, we’ll discuss and take a look at a few electronic discovery challenges in healthcare:
Enormous Volumes of Data
In healthcare-related litigations, data might be collected from hundreds or thousands of patients impacted by the issue. This is pretty common for class action suits or multi-district litigation (MDL), such as in a product liability case. It involves acquiring files, not only from patients, doctors, long-term care facilities, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals but also from product-related complaint files from the manufacturer. These can easily add up to millions of documents.
Things become even more complex when those files are in atypical formats or proprietary databases. For these files, data review needs to be done in the same format as more traditional files. If things aren’t carefully pre-planned, the costs can rise dramatically.
Requirements for Record Retention
For the healthcare sector, clinical information needs to be kept for six years. This requirement period is much longer for pharmaceutical manufacturers or medical device manufacturers. Files pertaining to them may need to be kept for the life of the product.
This makes it critical to establish a policy to determine what data should be kept, where to preserve it, how long it should be stored, and who has access to it. The policy should also illustrate how to defensibly and safely delete the data, what data should be deleted, and when it should be deleted. After creating the policy, the focus should shift to its implementation and audit. This way, what you do will be justifiable when questioned in court.
Privacy is a greater concern in healthcare litigation compared to other legal matters. Since the security and privacy of the patient and other data are of utmost importance, it’s extremely crucial to scrutinize the process, security, and technology of the vendor. Violation of privacy requirements can lead to hefty fines.
Sometimes medical files for specific patients are acquired. In this case, a private agreement between the involved parties or a strict court order may be required. This agreement or order should outline how the data will be handled and more. The use of the data will have to be limited to that litigation only and documents may have to be filed under seal, indicating that it’s not a public record.
High Litigation Frequency
The healthcare industry is subject to a lot of litigation. Cases associated with medical malpractice, mental health, product liability, intellectual property, etc., regularly spring up. To handle them, a standard business procedure needs to be established for the eDiscovery process.
In summary, the healthcare sector has certainly benefitted from the advanced data management solution, but you can’t ignore the eDiscovery challenges in healthcare discussed above.
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