“Data, Data, Everywhere, nor Any Drop to Drink”

The literature buffs among you should recognise this paraphrase of Samuel Coleridge’s epic poem, ‘The Ancient Mariner’. Besides having to put up with an albatross hung round his neck, the Ancient Mariner despaired of a lack of drinking water while becalmed at sea (“Water, water, everywhere…”) Given today’s oceans of data, CIOs might feel much the same way. They have to battle to fulfil legal requirements and assist business continuity by enabling management to pick out single data objects from terabytes of storage. AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) produced a model for the healthcare sector to tackle the problem. It’s a model that might be adapted for other industries too.

The model deals with e-discovery procedures in order to retrieve both paper and electronic documents for compliance with law, court procedures and agreements made during litigation. It includes the following sections:

  • Accurate Patient Identification
  • Search and Retrieve Process
  • Production of Records/Data
  • Testing and Sampling
  • Attorney/Third Party Request to Review Electronic Data
  • Responding to Interrogatories, Deposition, Court Procedures

There is no specification of any particular technology to be used. Instead, the model focuses on the roles of the people responsible for each section and the actions they are expected to take. Any decision about bringing in a specific e-discovery solution would then need to be made according to the forecast level of demand for e-discovery and compatibility with existing systems. The first step is to see if e-discovery software is a worthwhile investment in terms of time and money to be saved. If so, then testing for scalability, security, usability and accuracy will all be part of the vendor selection process. But so will the identification within the enterprise of someone to become the ‘go-to’ responsible person for the e-discovery solution.