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Surviving An EHR Outage

Is your office ready for an EHR outage?
Many doctors set plans into place for when their computer systems fail, but not many revisit their recovery/business plans on the regular to see if changes need to be applied, etc. Since we all rely on computers for so much these days, being prepared for failures is vital. And a failure can be anything from short-term power outages, malware attacks, lost Internet connection and more. And if an electronic health record (EHR) system goes down, a practice’s day-to-day business can be seriously interrupted for the worse.

So what should be done?
For starters, it’s best to develop a recovery plan so if anything does happen to your practice’s EHR system. Then you’ll need to revisit it regularly to address any new additions or updates and make sure that all the computer systems that connect to it will work properly after such an outage. It’s better to work with someone who specializes in recovery and business continuity planning so that everything is done right the first time.
Once a system is in place, the entire practice must practice those plans. EHR files need to be backed up regularly and drills should be done every so often by the entire staff so that everyone knows what to do in the case of an outage. This will also present any unforeseen problems that should be addressed.

Always coordinate with whoever your EHR vendor is so that they can run updates, restore patient records and the actual application itself. Also, don’t simply assume that the cloud is safe since there are still hardware issues that can arise. If you have a cloud-based EHR, you still need to have a disaster recovery plan in place and always back up everything beyond what the cloud vendor offers.

Finally, make sure that your recovery plan includes strategies for transitioning back to any restored computer systems. Don’t just go back to using paper because then you’re stuck asking yourself how much of it needs to be entered back into the system. Map out what sort of data needs to be placed back into the electronic records and who will do that.

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