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Three EHR Support Cornerstones of an Adaptive Hospital Disaster Plan

Umbrella and the medical plus sign in a heart

Almost 15 years ago Hurricane Katrina scarred the face of New Orleans, leaving a path of devastation and destruction in its wake.

Over a decade later, communities like New Orleans’ Ninth Ward are still putting the pieces of their lives back in place. A paper from John’s Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHCHS) claims that a lack of adaptive disaster preparedness is partially to blame for New Orleans’ difficult recovery.

There is no single approach to disaster preparedness claims the JHCHS Framework for Healthcare Disaster Resilience. By identifying four “broad types of disaster,” the report states a community’s ability to recover and sustain healthcare depends on both inherent and adaptive factors. Hospitals play a critical role in a community’s ability to adaptively respond to different disasters. Ensuring EHR resilience is a core challenge of hospital disaster planning and ensuring adaptability.

A hospital disaster plan that incorporates a strong foundation of EHR support can enable providers to effectively prepare, respond, and recover in disaster situations.

Different Disasters. Similar Patient Data Concerns

Whether disasters come in the form of Category 5 hurricanes or a mass shooting, a hospital must do all it can to maintain an effective level of performance. Effective execution of a hospital’s disaster plan and its capability to perform care duties is heavily reliant on a responsive and resilient EHR.

If a tornado knocks out a community’s communication network, an EHR needs to be able to utilize multiple points of connection. If a bus rollover brings more than 20 patients into an emergency room, a hospital can’t afford to waste time working around EHR platform quirks. In all instances, EHR accessibility and performance requires both technology and human support resources.

Three EHR Supports for Hospital Disaster Planning

An EHR technology architecture and support system must incorporate resources that are extremely focused, but also those that cover a broad range of needs. An EHR can withstand most disasters and add depth to a hospital’s disaster plan with the following:

1. Hosted EHR Technology

For many hospitals, one of the best ways to instill optimal EHR performance into a disaster plan is to choose a hosted solution. A hosted EHR solution will often include backups at short intervals to help minimize data loss and speed recovery.

Hospitals located in areas prone to natural disaster may also want to consider an EHR host that offers multiple points of connection or dual data centers. Multiple connection points often live directly on EHR hardware. In the event of complete hardware failure, hospitals who can failover to a remote, unaffected data center may experience less interruptions or shorter downtimes.

Many hospitals cite lower upfront capital expenses, improved hardware performance, and better security as top reasons for choosing a hosted EHR solution. Similar to an EHR with multiple layers of cybersecurity, a hospital’s disaster plan should include multiple layers of EHR support. The high returns of a hosted EHR can quickly diminish if support for that solution falls behind during a disaster.

2. Focused Team Support

A focus manager is a dedicated support manager who keeps in constant contact with a hospital. At the top tier of support, it is the job of a focus manager to listen to and serve a hospital. The relationship between a focus manager and their hospital is one of pure partnership.

The focus manager’s core responsibility is making sure all managed IT systems are meeting that hospital’s needs and expectations. As top-tier support personnel focus managers must be aware of every issue impacting a hospital, they are also responsible for keeping hospitals informed on all required system updates.

3. Customer Support

General EHR support personnel can act as an extension of the hospital’s internal IT team. In addition to answering and troubleshooting general EHR issues, support personnel can also help a hospital preempt critical service interruptions like potential disasters.

For example, MEDHOST customer support resources are constantly tracking dangerous weather events across the country. If a hospital is in a high-risk area, customer support can help them enact portions of their EHR disaster plan and coordinate priorities with focus management.

A community’s ability to respond to all the different types of disasters is dependent on many factors. Hospitals play a major role in helping communities adapt in disaster scenarios. Hospitals with an effective disaster plan backed by reliable EHR support can:

  • Remain a resource for their community
  • Ensure patient safety
  • Help reduce the potential for data loss
  • Have a quick recovery

MEDHOST provides all of the mainstays of EHR support hospitals need. Call us at 1.800.383.6278 to find out more.

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