What happens to your EHR when there is a power outage?
Recently, one of SMART’s on-premise partners experienced EHR downtime when they lost power at their addiction treatment clinic. This sudden outage caused corruption of their server and database. While repairing the database, nurses had to dose manually for the day. Luckily, the database was recoverable; if it weren’t the clinic would have lost the entire days’ worth of data. Regardless, the nurses had to re-enter every dose poured that day into the system. Had this on-premise clinic been operating in the cloud, they would have been better protected against the potential for data loss.
Why are Cloud-Based EHR’s more reliable during power outages, natural disasters, or security incidents?
When data is critical to an organization’s operations, it is vital to plan for the worst. That is why SMART’s EHR is hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. Amazon is known to have some of the best data centers in the world, providing multiple sources of redundancy to keep your servers up and running. Redundant systems for water, power, and internet connectivity significantly reduce the risk of server downtime. Constant monitoring of those systems ensures they are always ready to kick in if an issue arises. With multiple layers of security like database back-ups, network isolation, and encryption, there is a dramatic reduction in the risk of data loss. SMART’s Aurora database platform, powered by AWS, provides precise data protection with nightly back-ups and point-in-time recovery. This recovery means, in the event of database corruption or issue, we can restore data typically within 7-10 minutes.
What problems are associated with unexpected downtime?
Aside from frustrating patients, staff, and leadership, the risks associated with EHR downtime can be severe and costly. The most concerning problem may be patient safety. All other issues ultimately affect patient care in one way or another. In the event of an outage, particularly within a clinic operating an on-premises solution, data is at a higher risk of being compromised or lost. Critical information about a patient’s health history could be missed during treatment, negatively affecting their care and well-being.
Patient care may also be a challenge when staff is forced to endure the tedious process of inputting and searching for data in paper charts. Moreover, clinic operations suffer from the lack of quality control associated with performing procedures manually. To avoid these challenges, some organizations who have suffered wide-spread downtime have opted to invest in expensive back-up systems.1 While this may be effective, switching to a cloud environment is the most efficient solution.
How to prepare with a back-up plan
Plan for downtime occurrences like you would for any disaster. Central to your plan’s success is making sure your staff members use a standardized approach to providing patient care during these incidents. Run regular EHR downtime drills among your clinicians and staff. These will help to reinforce your incident response plan – keeping it top-of-mind.
You may already have a process in place, but this won’t do you any good if the staff does not remember the steps to take. Also, your team will be more at ease if they are prepared with a plan when downtime occurs. Finally, document and review the results with leadership. Their support is essential to overall staff buy-in.2
All-in the Cloud
Many different events could disrupt server operations. From power outages to flooding or fire, even someone tripping over a wire could bring work to a halt. Regardless of how it happens; this is just one of the reasons why SMART is committed to moving our partners’ servers and data into the AWS Cloud.