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Business Continuity Solutions for Healthcare

By David Ryan for America's Backbone Weekly
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Disaster can strike at any time. Whether your city or town is hit by flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, fire, brownouts or other mechanical infrastructure failures, the effects can be devastating. In no sector is this more apparent than health care. Disasters can cause power and network outages which can threaten your systems and, more importantly, your patients. Fortunately, in today's world there are a plethora of business continuity solutions available that can keep you fully operational, even in the midst of disaster. Here are some things you should think about when preparing for worst case scenarios.

Failover systems

The first key component to disaster management in health care involves failover routers. Imagine that one of your patients has a serious heart arrhythmia. The patient is wearing a portable heart monitor to make sure their tachycardia remains at a safe threshold. Your technicians have 24-hour access to the patient's real-time heart rhythms, and monitor them regularly on lab computers. Additionally, the monitor is set to send alerts to the lab should a serious problem arise. The system is working fine until a hurricane strikes, knocking out your land based internet connection. Suddenly you have no idea how your patient is. If they fall into ventricular fibrillation during the outage, they could die. This is a terrible scenario, but it can be completely avoided with failover routers.

Essentially, failover routers are backup systems that automatically switch to cellular internet when land-based systems go down. Whether outages are caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, or power outages due to regional infrastructure failure, a failover router ensures seamless continuity in internet service. This means you can keep tracking your heart patient remotely. And should you have cloud services enabled, you'll be able to backup your data safely through your cellular gateway.

The security of cloud computing

In tandem with failover routers, today's cloud platforms enable you to safely store and work with vital systems data remotely. This prevents data loss and allows you access to your medical records and analytics software during a crisis. If you're employing an IaaS solution (Infrastructure as a Service), it ensures your ability to stay operational while your main servers are down. Imagine that one of your patients is in critical care and requires emergency treatment. You need to know what medications they're currently on, and you need to know now. But without warning your primary internet goes down. Thanks to failover routers and cloud platforms, it's business as usual. You can access EHR and other data from remote servers.

While the thought of cloud storage used to incite fears about data security, such as insecure server storage or inadequate data encryption, reputable disaster recovery providers now meet stringent security standards, minimizing the prospect of data theft. An additional benefit of cloud computing is that it eliminates the need to duplicate costly physical infrastructure, thus saving bundles of money.

Choosing the right service for you

Today's disaster recovery industry is a competitive one. This means there are plenty of vendors and subscription models to choose from, so you can shop around for the system that best suits your needs. Because there are more vendors appearing on the market, costs are generally going down, while storage capacities are increasing. There are a few things to consider when choosing a system. In terms of cloud services, you'll generally have to decide on a specific package of services from a range of options. The most basic packages can cost as little as a few hundred dollars per month, while full-service plans can cost twice that much.

If we're talking about failover systems, you'll want to consider the choice between all-in-one systems (which are installed from scratch and include both wired and cellular connectivity), or secondary systems, which involve the addition of cellular gateways to pre-existing networks. In the first instance, the vendor would come into your healthcare facility and take out the existing land-based internet infrastructure and replace it with a new interconnected system that includes both a land based connection and cellular gateways. In the second instance, the vendor would install cellular modules on the outside of the building and then wire them to your existing land-based infrastructure. While there are definitely things to think about, it's great to know that there are a number of great options available, options that will help keep your systems running and your patients safe.

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David Ryan has many years of experience as a freelance writer and is active covering science and technology stories in the United States. He also enjoys writing short stories and traveling. 


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