Healthcare organizations switching to electronic records to improve disaster recovery

May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

Healthcare organizations face a variety of threats to the preservation and protection of patient records. In an effort to safeguard this information from loss or damage from natural disasters, these institutions are deploying electronic document management, which can ensure that documents are still quickly available despite any potential incident.

Health IT Security asserted that paper records actually pose one of the most significant data vulnerabilities for healthcare firms. The source explained that paper-based systems do not provide adequate security for protecting valuable data from getting in the hands of an unauthorized party or being accidentally disposed of. As a result, VentureBeat reported that over half of doctors in the U.S. have abandoned paper files in favor of electronic health records (EHRs), according to research by The Department of Health and Human Services. Further, the market for EHRs is now estimated to be worth between $6 billion and $10 billion.

Fierce Health IT revealed that EHRs provided substantial disaster recovery benefits after a tornado recently hit Moore, Oklahoma. John Meharg, director of health information technology at Norman Regional Health System, explained that the Moore Medical Center, which was destroyed during the storm, was able to seamlessly transfer patient data to another site as a result of the digital records system.

"We're very fortunate that we're a little ahead of the game," he stated, according to the news source. "The system never missed a beat. It would really have been a mess if we weren't electronic."

Minimizing disaster impact
Roger Neal, CIO of Duncan Regional Hospital in Oklahoma, noted that this kind of preparedness has become more common.

"Duncan has offsite disaster recovery, so our systems would be back online within 24 hours anywhere the hospital could be propped up," Neal told FierceHealthIT.

The source asserted that in light of recent budgetary cuts which have left some states unable to efficiently respond to public health emergencies, such as those brought on by natural disasters and disease outbreaks, disaster recovery should be a top priority. Electronic document management systems not only give organizations assurance that patient documents are safe from destruction, but also that they can be immediately retrieved from anywhere and at any time that healthcare professionals need them. This is crucial to maintaining effective patient care, even in the face of a devastating catastrophe.

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