Volume 11, Number 10 -- March 15, 2011

LDA Helps Hospitals Make Backups More PEPpy

Published: March 15, 2011

by Alex Woodie

Hospitals that are struggling to complete backups on time may be interested in the new Legacy Performance Enhancement Program (PEP) offering unveiled last month by Legacy Data Access (LDA). The Georgia company, which specializes in maintaining data from soon-to-be-retired hospital information systems (HIS) running "legacy" platforms like i5/OS and OS/390, launched LegacyPEP to give hospitals a secure and compliant way to offload rarely used data from production systems.

LDA specializes in maintaining the data held in legacy computer systems used in hospital settings. The company's CEO, Shelly Peters, founded the company in 1999 after volunteering to hold onto the backup tapes for an old mainframe that Atlanta Medical Center had to quickly retire as the result of an acquisition. When the hospital needed a piece of data off the tapes, Peters would run the report on her mainframe, and then fax them back to the hospital.

Today, the company has evolved beyond faxing, and now gives customers access to their data using the Web. Data is not maintained on tapes, but in LDA's database. But LDA's core value proposition has not changed much. It still offers a cost-effective and compliant repository for storing data from HIS applications that hospitals and other healthcare groups are in the process of retiring.

LDA has worked with most of the major HIS applications running on IBM mainframe, IBM i, Unix, MUMPS, and Windows platforms, including two of the most popular IBM i applications, McKesson's Series 2000 and Siemens Medseries4. The company has a relatively easy time getting at data stored in relatively "open" systems, which, surprisingly includes the IBM i, according to LDA officials. More closed and proprietary systems require a little more finesse.

Many of these old HIS apps are being retired in favor of the new generation of electronic health record (EHR) systems developed by Epic and others. Hospitals need access to their legacy data during transitions from HIS to EHR, which can take several months to several years to complete. Stringent data retention regulations also come into play.

LDA is seeing a lot of business these days as hospitals flock to adopt EHR systems. The rush to adopt EHR is being driven in large part from funding the federal government is offering through the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act funding provisions in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus bill. Basically, hospitals are getting free stimulus dollars to implement EHR systems through 2013, and this is displacing a lot of older HIS systems.

LDA's LegacyPEP offering is a new twist on this core business of storing legacy data that resides on platforms that are being retired. Under LegacyPEP, LDA will hold onto hospital records that exist in systems that aren't necessarily slated for replacement. By outsourcing the storage and management of this data, hospitals can circumvent the need for hardware upgrades in order to continue completing nightly, weekly, and monthly backups within the allotted time.

While a HIS application may or may not be considered "legacy," much of the data residing in the HIS applications is. According to LDA, 75 percent of data in HIS systems is approximately seven years old. Many hospitals have at least 10-year's-worth of data sitting in their HIS systems. Ninety-five percent of patient accounts have a zero balance, according to LDA.

Depending on the state, a hospital must hold onto records for anywhere from seven to 30 years. Keeping these records in the production database can quickly eat up disk and CPU cycles and lead to ever-longer backups, according to John Hanggi, LDA's director of customer services.

"Those accounts are being turned every night," Hanggi says. "They're finding they have to upgrade their boxes to keep the performance going. Our idea with PEP is we can take out the static data, bring it in house, put it into a database, then build Web access to it. So if a hospital is still working old accounts--say Aunt Mildred is still making her $20 monthly payment--they can just log in on the Web."


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Editor: Alex Woodie
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