Are you storing your critical documents off-site? Whether you’re using a records storage facility or are self-storing documents externally, here are some do’s and don’ts that will save your company time, money, and even potential legal hassles.
For documents that must be kept, but don’t need to be regularly accessed
You’ll want to store these in a safe and secure place. Pitfalls to watch out for are:
- Risk of ruin from water damage, harsh weather or natural disasters
- Risk of theft (especially for HIPAA protected documents)
- Risk of damage from fire
(Important reminder: HIPAA protection isn’t limited to medical documents; any document that contains a person’s name and 1 of 18 additional identifiers is included under the act).
Though it may sound difficult to believe, we’ve seen stacks of critical documents stored in some pretty precarious situations – including trailers in lowland areas by water, and non-waterproof tents (with no pallets to prop the documents up above ground level).
Clearly these are the sort of recipes for disaster that you’ll want to avoid, as they leave documents wide open to water damage, even from a simple rainstorm.
Also, be sure to tag boxes/storage units with reliable identification to avoid misplacement. Failing to do this is another “blooper” we’ve unfortunately been witness to. It can take hours or even days to find an improperly labeled document, creating a drain on man-hours and potentially exposing your company to noncompliance fines.
If you use a record storage facility, make sure the company you choose inventories your documents and puts them on a retention schedule. Otherwise, your business is likely to pay unnecessary fees to store documents indefinitely – fees which could have easily been avoided.
For documents that do need to be regularly accessed
When figuring out the best way to store documents you know you’ll need to access going forward, document scanning and document management software offer plenty of benefits.
Storing your documents securely in the cloud (or digitally on-site) lets you search and retrieve documents quickly whenever you need them, while also placing them safely out of harm’s way. No more worrying about paper documents being destroyed by mother nature, or falling into the wrong hands and creating unnecessary exposure for your company (not to mention placing your customers at risk of identity theft).
For these reasons, more and more companies these days are turning to document scanning and document management software to prepare for audits, protect against theft and liabilities, and improve overall productivity and efficiency.
But regardless of which solution you choose, remember that a little extra planning today will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of your company and clients tomorrow. Choosing the best way to store your documents off-site is an important decision; don’t make it an afterthought.