Healthcare IT Disaster Prevention: Saving Time & Saving Lives

10 Sep

It’s no secret that a breach or outage can be a huge problem for any entity. For retailers it often means lost revenues, unhappy customers, and a dent in the brand reputation. For e-Commerce companies it could result in fines, lost revenues, or the end of the brand altogether. However, when it comes to healthcare IT, preventing disasters isn’t about lost revenues, possible fines, or reputation. A breach, outage, and downtime can mean much more in the healthcare field. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Sure, this may sound a bit dramatic. I mean, medical centers got by for decades without a proper “IT department” right? Well, these days hospitals and medical facilities rely heavily on healthcare technology and IT departments. For example, many people go to the same doctor or facility for treatment or check-ups. Sure, it’s easier for these places to find a person’s records as they’re often kept not only in a computer system but on paper as well. However, say you’re traveling across the country and suffer an injury or medical emergency such as a heart attack? The hospital will most certainly need your records to see past injuries, allergies, and the like – and they don’t have time to request a faxed copy. In a scenario such as this it really could mean life or death if a medical facility is unable to obtain your records due to an outage or breach. Not to mention HIPPA requires such access to records.

It is this very reason that many healthcare IT departments have been hesitant to look at newer technologies such as the cloud to streamline records and other articles of need. They fear that their data will be at risk, they fear that downtime will be a consistent issue, they fear that costs will rise and people’s lives will be at risk. For unprepared healthcare IT departments this could certainly be the case.

Thankfully, many cloud providers have found ways to actually reduce downtime and ensure that medical facilities have the data they need when they need it most. This all starts by assessing the risks of your infrastructure. Currently, risk assessments are required when it comes to electronic healthcare records and information. However, a recent audit from the Office of Civil Rights found that a number of healthcare departments fail to perform these assessments. A reason could be they don’t know what to look for when it comes to assessing their risks. Again, this is where cloud providers can assist greatly.

It also helps to seek out and possible breaches or issues. Breaches can often go undetected for days or months and wreak havoc on your systems when you need them most. Monitoring your systems and knowing what to look for can greatly reduce the possibility your healthcare IT systems go down or face a breach. Appropriate business continuity and disaster recovery plans must be implemented to reduce outages as well, another area that top cloud providers excel in assessing and creating.

Finally, one thing that will help a lot of healthcare IT departments maintain proper standards is compliance rules formed by the FDA and HIPPA. Critical systems must be kept available at all times. Given that we’ve heard of many top organizations (not necessarily healthcare) having issues with breaches, lost data, and overall security it’s important that every organization ensure their disaster recovery and business continuity plans are as air tight as possible – if not, there could be deadly consequences.