Business continuity is not an easy process; however, many healthcare facilities have successfully tackled it. These experienced sites offer a wealth of advice for their colleagues with tips for success:
Employ a systematic approach to business continuity, prioritizing applications by recovery requirements. Not every application must be labeled at the outset of the plan; however, a clear understanding of what comprises tier one, two and three applications can help to steer the process.
Think outside of the box, says Todd Hollowell, executive director, information technology, University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System. “The storage strategy must be flexible and scalable enough to hold, access and secure all types of current and, more importantly, future digital data.” Remember to periodically assess data and applications. For example, email may move into the mission-critical category for more sites as insurers begin reimbursing for electronic communications between clinicians and patientst.
The costs of neglecting business continuity can be devastating. “Healthcare organizations need to invest in data redundancy,” states Chris Panagiotopoulos, director of technology for LifeBridge Health in Baltimore. The alternative, says Panagiotopoulos, is to take funds that could have been allocated to business continuity and save them for revenue loss or litigation in the case of a failure. Laura Bagus, director of IT infrastructure and telecommunications for Edward Hospital and Health Services in Chicago adds, “The challenge for the CIO and IT management is to educate decision-makers about the needs for and the advantages of a robust business continuity plan.”
“Budget constraints need not stand in the way of business continuity,” asserts Joe Wagner, CTO of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif. According to Wagner, it’s possible to finance business continuity through savings achieved by eliminating unnecessary replication of files and reducing backup of unchanged data. “The hospital can save space and storage and repurpose the money saved,” he says.
Test, test test. “Every six months, Edward Hospital plans to shut down our SAN and switch to the redundant one, constantly testing its fail over capability,” says Bagus. LifeBridge Health keeps IT staff on its toes by periodically simulating disasters and recovery.