What is Your Electronic Health Records Backup Plan?

What is Your Electronic Health Records Backup Plan? How can you insure that your precious patient data is protected in the event of a natural disaster or fire?  Even daily events like a hard drive crash or power failure is hard to recover from without a well structured backup plan that secures your records.

The first order of business is a UPS (uninterruptable power supply).  A battery backup or UPS is primarily used to provide a backup power source to the parts in the computer case, the monitor, and any other device plugged in to the battery backup.  In addition to acting as a backup when the power goes out, they also act as power “conditioners” by ensuring that the electricity flowing to your computer and accessories is free from drops or surges.  If a computer is not receiving a consistent flow of electricity, damage frequently can occur.

High end battery backup units will feature a LCD screen that show information about how charged the batteries are and how much power is being used.  The batteries inside the unit are rechargeable and often replaceable, providing a long term solution to keeping your computer system running.

Patient Data Backup

EMR systems need special attention.  If it is a server based program, several options are available.

Disk backup (e.g. duplicate server):  Having a separate server can reduce the amount of down time a practice may experience when restoring a system from a backup.  Keep in mind that if the backup server is located in the same office it might not help in the event of natural disaster, fire, or flood.

Tape backup: Magnetic tape systems are commonly used in the healthcare industry.  The most important thing to remember is to keep copies of the backup off-site in case of natural disaster or fire.  Remember that tapes do not last forever and can degrade in heat and extreme cold temperatures.  Using fireproof safes can help but tapes will still be vulnerable.

Online backup companies:  Some companies offer complete HIPPA compliant backup services for the medical community.  This is an excellent option and can be reasonably priced.

By testing your backup systems, your practice will be able to insure that the system is working properly.  This process is overlooked by many healthcare organizations.  A case recently revealed that a practice was backing up to a duplicate server.  When the primary server had a melt down, the duplicate server was found to only be backing up the programs and not the patient data.  The provider had many business and legal concerns because he did not test his backups.

The rules for health records state that files must be kept intact for seven years after the last patient visit.  Loss of data can translate into lawsuits, fines and penalties.  It’s also a good idea to make sure that scanned documents (PDF) files and image files are backed up.  Make sure to set your system to backup automatically on a frequent basis.  Don’t forget that backing up continuously during the work hours may reduce your systems efficiency.

Reduce the risk associated with data loss by considering these suggestions.

 

Iron Comet Consulting is a Mckesson Platinum certified reseller, medical IT firm and medical billing service based in Stockbridge, Georgia. Our products combine the clinical with the financial to improve workflow and revenue capture. Mckesson’s Medisoft Clinical is a complete physician practice optimization solution. For more information, please visit http://www.ironcomet.com

 

 

 

 

 

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