How should you manage your practice data when you are preparing to go on leave or are retiring from private practice?
Storing Records – 10 years+
Whether you’re reaching the end of your career or you just need time off, you have to be prepared to manage your data in accordance with PHIPA guidelines. Record retention in Canada is ten years after the last client contact, and at least ten years after a minor client reaches the age of majority. After the ten years are up, digital files must be destroyed and physical files must be securely discarded by shredding.
Security Is the Cost of Doing Business
There are considerations to keep in mind when you make your storage decisions. First, remember that securely storing sensitive data is part of the cost of doing business as a therapist. It’s never recommended that you store paper files on your own private property or in general storage, which is vulnerable from both security and damage points of view. Your basement or storage facility can be affected by flooding, mold, and decay. Printing records is never a great option.
When you do have printed records, the most secure option is to go with a company like Iron Mountain; however, this can get prohibitively expensive. There’s a monthly fee to keep your data in storage, and if you ever need to access any of the files for any reason, you have to pay a fee to pull the content out each time. Additionally, traveling to the storage facility is inconvenient. It’s the difference between ten seconds of searching a digital system or ten days of arranging the travel and time to withdraw your data from storage.
When you have digital records, the options are better. One option is to download your data to a portable hard drive. But remember, you must create a second copy of that hard drive, and the two versions can’t be stored in the same location. Plus, all of the data must be encrypted and password-protected so that there’s zero risk of someone else accessing the files.
The Owl Practice Maintenance Plan
The best option is to shift your Owl account to a maintenance plan, where you have full access to your account and all of its data, save for the ability to create new billable sessions. This option costs just $240/year; a cost-effective option to budget into the expense of doing business both now and in the future when you’re on leave or retire. It’s significantly less expensive and more convenient than Iron Mountain and is without the risks of private storage, either in physical or digital form.
If you have questions about going on leave or retiring when using Owl Practice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to discuss the best options with you.