November 2, 2015 – What would happen if a tornado struck your area? Or a devastating flood, like the one that recently hit South Carolina, knocked out the power grid and sent hordes of patients rushing to your facility? How would you continue to operate? Particularly if those disasters also caused direct damage to your facility’s data center?
For many healthcare facilities — particularly the ones that build and manage IT infrastructure On-Premise — the results could prove devastating.
In the short-term, doctors might not be able to access patient records, which could hinder their ability to deliver proper immediate care. In the long-term, re-constructing infrastructure and restoring data could require a significant investment of time and money. And, because doctors would likely revert to paper charting during that time, even a brief outage would require time-consuming manual re-entry of that information, as well as potential HIPAA concerns.
What “Being Prepared” Really Means
From an IT perspective, every healthcare facility should strive to achieve total service reliability — even during the most extreme “worst case” situations. Very simply, the goal must be continuity through every conceivable scenario.
How can this be done? For starters, consider these technologies and strategies:
- Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB): By spreading out client communications across multiple data centers around the globe, healthcare facilities can minimize their exposure to localized outages or regional disasters.
- Virtual Clinical Workstations: With this technology, healthcare providers are no longer coupled to a specific machine or location. As a result, if service or capabilities are lost in one facility because of a disaster, doctors are still able to access their desktops virtually from any Internet-enabled device.
- Cloud: As cloud based services become more mainstream, leveraging “The Cloud” for these critical workloads allows for a lower cost, on-demand option than building out new and costly On-Premise data centers.
The purpose of these technologies is continuity. When disaster happens and patient needs escalate, you want to ensure your facility is fully capable of delivering the absolute best care.
How Can an IT Partner Help You Prepare?
Unfortunately, there’s no prescriptive formula that can be applied across the board to prepare every healthcare organization for every scenario. In some circumstances, building out a second or third data center off-site might be the best course of action. In others, leveraging the cloud is the right choice.
This is where an IT partner, with their deep experience helping healthcare facilities, can be valuable. They can provide:
- Full technology assessment: The first step toward disaster preparation is understanding what technology you already have and what technology you need to build out a truly fault-tolerant environment. An IT partner can do this by evaluating your existing infrastructure and network, and developing a roadmap for acquiring the technology that’s missing.
- Hardware or Cloud technology procurement and production deployment: Once you know what you have (and need), an IT partner can help you procure and pilot those technologies, and build out proof points for full implementation.
- Ongoing testing: After new technology is fully implemented, partners can deliver peace of mind by performing ongoing tests of various disaster scenarios to ensure a fully functional environment. The hope is that you’ll never need to deploy these capabilities in a live scenario, but the last thing you want is to discover a problem in the midst of a disaster.
There are many other ways IT partners — and new technology — can help healthcare facilities prepare for the most extreme scenarios. If you’d like to learn more about Coretek Services and how we’ve helped healthcare organizations across the country ensure total service reliability, click here.