Healthcare facilities provide necessary treatments to patients that rely on stored data. Healthcare disaster preparedness is essential to ensure you can continue to access the information you need to treat patients and continue your operations as usual. Taking steps to prepare your healthcare facility in case of a disaster can help you reduce downtime while assuring patients you can continue to provide treatments to patients.
You will learn more about the importance of data security in healthcare, evaluating third-party vendors and the different factors to consider when preparing your disaster recovery plan.
The Need for Health Data Backups
Data is essential in the healthcare industry and is used to help medical practices, and hospitals make informed decisions about their patient treatments and business operations. Data is also critical to doctors and nurses to better understand their patients so they can provide personalized treatment. Backing up healthcare data is essential to maintain access to your data during a natural disaster or cyberattack, which can help you prevent a crippling catastrophe for your business.
You should keep backup data in multiple locations and ensure they are updated and easily accessible. Storing your healthcare data in various locations ensures you will always have access to data. Backup and recovery can help you with disaster preparedness, allowing you to maintain flexible, current and quick solutions to keep your data secure and accessible, even during a cyberattack or natural disaster.
Evaluating Third-Party Vendors
If you choose to work with a third-party vendor for your data backup solutions, you should ask plenty of questions regarding redundancy and recovery options or plans. You should fully understand how a third-party vendor will help you back up your healthcare data and what they offer for data recovery. A quality third-party vendor will ensure your data is stored safely and will not be lost during a critical event, ensuring it is accessible and secure at all times.
You will want to take the time to assess the vendor’s security measures to determine if your data is safe. A third-party vendor should be transparent about their safety measures so you can decide if it is enough to keep your critical data secure and accessible. You can ask questions and request documentation, such as their industry certifications and information security policy, to help you make the best choice.
Other factors to consider when evaluating a third-party vendor are their products or services and the risk. If you do not correctly vet third-party vendors, you could risk being unable to access your data and become vulnerable to malware or phishing attacks.
Things to Consider
When looking for ways to secure your healthcare data, there are different factors to consider. You will want to choose the proper security measures to protect your data from different threats. For example, file deletion is a common problem healthcare facilities experience since files can be accidentally deleted during outages, natural disasters or because of simple inattentiveness. Ransomware, or software that blocks access to data or computer systems until the money is paid, is also becoming more common.
Healthcare facilities also need to consider natural disasters. While these events are less common, they are more complex and can be catastrophic for your business. Below are other factors to consider when choosing security measures for your critical healthcare data.
Risk vs. Cost Considerations
You will want to balance the cost of your data security healthcare measures with the associated risks. Inadequately protecting your healthcare data can open your healthcare facility to different risks, including cybersecurity, compliance and damage to your reputation. If you work with a reliable third-party vendor, you can prevent these risks from occurring while protecting your data.
You will want to determine the level of investment necessary to ensure your business is adequately prepared during a disaster, ensuring you can prevent data loss or cybersecurity threats that could make your private data public. With enough money, you could conceivably protect data with nearly 100% certainty. However, such a level of protection is beyond the financial resources of all but the largest of organizations.
When securing your data, you might consider the benefits of multi-site or multi-homing setups. Multi-homing strategies help keep your data secure when employees and verified users access data from multiple locations. This strategy has many benefits, including adding safeguards against system failures, maintaining the system during disasters and assisting with load balancing, allowing a network to operate with less downtime.
Multi-homing can help with distributing data across different physical locations for added security. This strategy also ensures your data is available even if one connection or site fails. However, there is significant cost associated with this arrangement and may be more than you actually need. We have found that our customers’ needs are fully met without the need for multi-site hosting.
Instant Failover vs. Near-Time Recovery
Instant failover and near-time recovery serve different purposes when systems or networks are unavailable. Downtime can impact your patient satisfaction and significantly impact your revenue. Instant failover is a duplicate server environment or backup connection that you can immediately switch to when a disruption occurs unexpectedly. Instant or automatic failover instantly moves your data or applications to the standby system. Near-time recovery refers to the ability of an organization to recover its infrastructure and servers to their original state, within a short period of time, usually within a few hours.
Understanding the differences between instant failover and near-time recovery is essential so you can determine the needs of your healthcare facility. You may need instant failover to access critical data during an emergency. You may also need near-time recovery to recover your IT systems during a catastrophic event or outage. You should consider the benefits and drawbacks of each approach to determine which is best for your healthcare data. Tangible Solutions utilizes near-time recovery as it provides the right balance of protection and cost for our customers.
Spare Equipment and Rapid Availability
When planning your disaster preparedness measures for your healthcare data, you will want to have measures in place to ensure you have spare equipment readily available. If your standard equipment fails, you will want backup equipment you can use until your standard equipment is restored. Spare equipment ensures that you have a quick replacement while repairing critical hardware.
You can also partner with reliable suppliers for rapid equipment procurement to ensure you can return online as soon as possible. A dedicated supplier will be able to get you the equipment you need quickly so you can reduce your downtime, allowing you to continue serving your patients and business operations without losing revenue. You can focus on getting your standard equipment up and running without worrying about not having access to the data that is essential for your operations.
Implementing Disaster Recovery Plans
Once you have determined the best way to keep your data safe during a disaster or catastrophic event, you must implement a disaster recovery plan. Your plan should be comprehensive to ensure you can recover your data after a disaster event. You will need to assign roles and responsibilities to staff and employees within your healthcare facility so they know what to do during a data loss event so you can get your systems back online as soon as possible without losing critical data.
Even once you have a disaster recovery plan in place, you will need to regularly test and update it to suit the needs of your business. Your first plan may meet your needs initially, but these needs will change as your business grows and you collect more data.
Our Happe-MDs customers are well protected as their data is hosted within our highly protected environment, therefore they only need to concentrate on protecting systems within their local office(s). For our Integration-as-a-Service customers, we of course protect the data that passes through our platform but they will still want to review their disaster preparedness plans as previously mentioned.
Contact Tangible Solutions to Learn How We Can Be Part of Your Disaster Preparedness
Damaged equipment and lost data can make getting your healthcare facility up and running after a disaster challenging, resulting in costly downtime. You can also lose or compromise data critical to your operations and your patient’s care. Preparing your healthcare facility and your data for a disaster is essential. Prioritizing data security and preparedness can help keep your equipment and data secure while ensuring you can continue to operate during a catastrophe, such as natural weather events, that result in power loss.
Tangible can be a part of your disaster preparedness plans to minimize downtime and secure your data. Contact us today.