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Oct 19 2012   10:35AM GMT

Disaster recovery strategy’s impact on patient care

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
data, data protection, Data security, Disaster recovery, patient centered care

Guest post by Blaine Raddon, general manager, Americas, Acronis

Unexpected downtime can be extremely detrimental to a business and its revenue, making a sound disaster recovery plan a real necessity for any industry, whether financial or education, manufacturing or government. There is one industry in which the standard of care patients receive, in addition to the company’s bottom line, is affected. Reliable care and service hinges on secure data with properly-maintained patient records acting as the backbone for accurate diagnoses and treatments, in the health care industry.

Secure data protection should be top of mind for IT professionals, with IDC predicting that 80% of health care organizations will adopt electronic health records (EHRs) by 2016. Now, more than ever, the threat of cyberattacks and natural disasters could leave systems down for hours, or even days. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that securing data is top priority for the health care industry’s IT department. This is not the case, according to the 2012 Acronis Disaster Recovery Index.

More than half (55%) of all health sector companies surveyed weren’t confident they could recover their data in the event of a disaster, as revealed by the Disaster Recovery Index. What’s more, a third (33 percent) confessed they couldn’t recover quickly, with 42% saying they would suffer substantial downtime.

After reading these staggering statistics, one question may come to mind: Why? Why would an industry that relies so heavily on data to accurately treat patients, subject themselves to indefinite data loss and the inability to recover it, simultaneously sacrificing patients’ quality of care?

Health care is not immune to the tough economic climate, experiencing the same financial pressures as the rest of the country. In fact, one in five (22 %) health companies surveyed reported a lack of IT resources as one of the biggest challenges in regards to their backup and disaster recovery. The fact is, health care companies aren’t devoting the necessary resources to backup and disaster recovery. Oftentimes, those resources aren’t there to devote in the first place!

Health care companies spend the least of their IT budgets on backup and disaster recovery of any sector surveyed, with more than a third (34%) admitting to spending nothing at all on backup and disaster recovery in 2011. Health care funds must stretch across numerous deserving departments, with budgets obviously limited, which often causes backup and disaster recovery to take a backseat.

So, what’s the solution? Clearly, health care companies need to devote more resources and strategy to optimizing their backup and disaster recovery operations, while remaining cognizant of cost restraints. Virtualization is an avenue that many health care IT professionals are exploring due to its efficiency, cost benefits and ability to manage mass amounts of data. In fact, according to the Disaster Recovery Index, the vast majority (84 percent) of health companies have already embraced virtualization to some degree and one in five (27 percent) already have more than 50 percent of their servers in a virtual environment. These statistics offer a glimmer of hope for the health care industry, as virtualization is just one aspect of the increasingly complex advanced hybrid infrastructures that IT professionals can expect.

The stress of backup and disaster recovery costs are lessened and business continuity remains a top priority without breaking the bank by using one solution capable of protecting all environments (physical, virtual and cloud). Protecting data across virtualized and hybrid environments will likely become the norm as more medical records make their way online. With this will come the reassurance that critical data and the quality of care patients receive will remain unaffected by cyber-attacks and natural disasters.

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Jzr  |   Oct 29, 2012  10:36 PM (GMT)

Great article.  I just finished designing three EMR disaster recovery plans and have designed and implemented two others in my career.  The truth of the matter is that most DR plans do not exist and I would question that the percentages presented in the article may actually represent a more dire picture – the medical community is not about to expose themselves to high risk insurance costs and bad press.  Virtualization at the server level is only 1/4th of the new solution.  There are eight levels of enterprise network for any EMR, four levels of vitualization which can produce a capital cost savings of about 30% and a operational cost saving of about 60%.  While at the same time reducing the business risk by better than 80%.  The economies of scale are there and it is only a matter of time that folks will figure this out.


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