Guest Column | September 27, 2018

Is Your Hospital Ready For Hurricane Season? How To Prepare For It With Disaster Recovery Planning

By Oliver Bodden, and Joseph Odore, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America

Managed Offsite Backup For Saving Data From Natural Disasters

While it may be hard to believe, we are already about three months into hurricane season. Last year, the U.S. had one of the costliest years to date, with Hurricane Harvey’s damage estimated to be at $125 billion and Irma’s at around $100 billion. The devastation that occurred last year brings light to the fact that it is critical for hospitals and healthcare organizations to guarantee services that will protect both the patient and their information if a disaster does strike. Now more than ever, hospitals and healthcare organizations need a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place.

In the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, the amount of downtime is variable and could be sustained over a long period of time. When this happens, hospitals often must revert to paper-based processes, with no access to previous records, and the repercussions of having to use those processes can be significant.

Adequately preparing for disasters gives hospital personnel and patients peace of mind knowing that they’re prepared and that their records are safe. With the appropriate processes and solutions, this can be resolved. Below, we’ve outlined a few ways that hospitals can prepare using business system solutions designed for these scenarios:

Unified Communications

The ability to communicate without disruption is critical to not only continuing business operations at hospitals, but also to ensuring the safety of your patients. Communication can be difficult when critical systems are down and each passing minute could mean increased risk of harm for patients or more lost revenue.

Unified communications solutions should be included in a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. For example, if an on-premises phone system is down, calls can be automatically routed to alternate sites or mobile phones. Hospital staff also can switch to instant messaging or chat if voice communication is unreliable. In some cases, video applications can be used to assess the damage or aid first responders. That said, in many disasters, the network shutting down is also a possibility. For that reason, hospitals should utilize and invest in backup uninterruptable power supplies to prepare for these types of situations. That way, if the power goes down, the system will still be powered by the generator.

Enterprise Content Management

After disaster strikes, it’s important that hospitals and healthcare organizations be able to resume operations as quickly as possible. By deploying enterprise content management solutions prior to a disaster, your hospital or healthcare organization will have a greater chance of recovering documents once the unplanned event is over.

With enterprise content management solutions, hospitals and healthcare organizations can digitally store and manage information so they can be accessed electronically once the disaster is over. Doing this ensures that your information is kept safe and will not be lost even when disaster strikes. Additionally, it’s also important to backup these records to the cloud or a secondary server kept at a different location or even multiple locations. This would be the best-case scenario for an added level of security. With these solutions, organizations can access critical patient information from any location, so information is always accessible in the event of a disaster.

Environmental factors are raising the importance of a comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity strategy. Healthcare executives must ensure that they have identified their critical systems and have plans in place to recover if hit with a natural disaster. Having a plan in place will help to optimize incident preparedness in the case of downtime, reduce patient safety risks, promote continuity of operations, and limit slowdowns.

About The Authors

Oliver Bodden is Product Manager, Unified Communications for Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America.

Joseph Odore is Product Manager, Document Management & Imaging for Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America.