Healthcare News & Insights

3 keys for your hospital’s EHR backup plan

There’s one critical patient safety measure all hospitals using electronic health records should be taking: 

92419672Have a plan in place for when the EHR system goes down.

Anyone who’s worked around computers long enough knows that technology glitches are inevitable.

And when doctors are relying on technology to access patient records and other information, even small glitches can have big consequences. Hospitals must also plan for situations where they won’t have access to their EHRs for extended periods of time.

That’s especially important as more providers are turning to cloud-based systems, as several hospitals learned last year after an outage on a vendor’s network left them unable to use their EHR systems for about five hours.

Here are some factors hospitals should consider when developing an EHR backup plan:

1. Have accessible data backups

In many industries, disaster recovery plans are focused on making sure the company still has its data after an incident occurs. In health care that’s still important, but providers also need to make sure they can access patients’ records even when their system is down.

Many EHR systems include provisions for backing up data, but if not, the hospital must take matters into its own hands.

One key to keep in mind: Don’t keep back-ups in the same place as the primary system. For example, if the hospital uses an on-site EHR system, backed-up records should be kept in a cloud-based storage system or another physical location.

2. Test the back-up plan

For a plan to be effective, the hospital must know it works — before it’s needed. That means the organization should regularly test the plan and make improvements as necessary.

That’s critical even when back-ups are handled by a vendor. If the vendor promises that data can be restored in a certain length of time, a test should be conducted to prove that’s the case.

Experts recommend those tests are conducted on a regular, scheduled basis, as well as any time changes are made to the IT system.

3. Train and drill

In addition to having all of the technology in place, it’s important that hospital staff are trained in what they’re supposed to do in the event of a system failure. Serious problems can occur if people are scrambling to figure out what they’re supposed to do after an incident occurs.

It’s also important to make sure everything runs smoothly by conducting regular drills with staff members.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.