Whether or not you believe in climate change, the weather has been fluctuating wildly across the country over the last few years. Hurricanes, tornados, huge storm systems, flash flooding, record-setting heatwaves, and wildfires seem to be becoming the new normal. And while these events can greatly affect properties, they can also compromise your practice’s privacy security and electronic health records.
Here’s how to plan for backup and disaster recovery solutions and how to secure medical health records with information technology (IT) in a weather-related event.
Planning for natural disasters
1. Backups and data recovery
Tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, and major storm systems can cause major damage to power lines, breakers, cell phone towers, and other power sources and infrastructures. Sudden power surges and outages can fry plugged in computers, modems, and servers. This is why having a plan in place for data backup and recovery in healthcare is so important.
If your computer were to get zapped by a lightning strike or power surge, would you lose months of work because it’s saved only on that computer? How often do you back up your electronic patient records? Once or twice a day? Is that enough when you consider how many patients you see in a day? Moreover, how many records would be permanently altered by a loss of data entry?
To protect your practice’s privacy security and electronic health records, consider implementing your data backup and recovery in cloud computing systems. Professionals recommend that you take a backup of your entire system at least every fifteen minutes. This will ensure that you can always fully recover in the face of weather-related disasters. It will also ensure that patient data is better protected.
2. Implementing redundancies
Depending on your specialty or type of facility, you may or may not be able to comfortably suspend services in case of a power outage or a WiFi outage. How many devices are Bluetooth or WiFi connected? How many of your electronics are plugged directly into outlets and cannot run without power?
You don’t want to get caught in the middle of a surgery or other delicate medical procedure without access to power or the Internet. Even if you’re just doing administrative work, imagine losing an entire chart that you just detailed. What if you couldn’t log in to send an important prescription to the pharmacy before it closes?
This is why setting up power and WiFi redundancies for your practice should be a key component of your disaster recovery plan. You can install generators for power, and secondary WiFi sources (through a different provider!) to make sure that you don’t lose connection. You can also install ethernet connections, which are old school but effective in emergency situations.
Just remember that in case of a city-wide blackout or if cellular towers are destroyed by a natural disaster, there may be no internet alternative. This is why having a solid cloud-based backup recovery plan comes in handy.
3. Physical access
When you think about natural disasters, you might think of the damage that can be caused by water, lightning strike, or fires. However, you might not think much about the human element of danger involved during a natural disaster. Unfortunately, there are plenty of hackers who would love to take advantage of a closed and vulnerable office or stressed security measures.
That’s why adhering to the best data access security practices is so important, especially in the healthcare industry. You don’t want to face astronomical fines for endangering your protected health information (PHI) privacy security and electronic health records.
To increase your data access security protocols, consider using password-protected firewalls, requiring password changes from employees every 90 days, and creating a hierarchical information access policy. This hierarchical policy is important, because it means that employees will only have access to the data that they absolutely need to access.
4. Regular maintenance
Another key component of a successful disaster recovery plan is regular maintenance and upkeep. This means completing both physical and digital checkups of your systems and equipment on a regular schedule. For this, IT professionals recommend at least once a quarter. You can have a recovery plan in place, but if your backup WiFi router blew out a year ago without being replace, it would be all be for nothing.
Physical maintenance checklist
- Make sure that you have surge protectors (not just power strips!) installed for all important and expensive technology.
- Check your redundancy equipment, and make sure that it runs correctly.
- Keep all electronic equipment free of dust, and clean it regularly.
Digital maintenance checklist
- Make sure that all of your computers and devices are running on the latest software and anti-virus updates.
- Check your backups to ensure that they’re uploading correctly and that they work with your updated systems.
- Implement patches as they come out.
For more information
Scale Technology specializes in healthcare IT services. We’re a full-service managed IT services provider, and we offer a robust offering of data backup and recovery systems. We also offer HIPPA-compliant security services. From policies on the meaningful use of electronic health records to the physical installation of redundancy systems, we do it all.
We’re happy to perform an assessment of your current network, and offer you a full run-down of the updates and regulatory compliance that you need to be HIPPA compliant. Don’t wait until a natural disaster strikes. Make sure that you can bounce back quickly, and get back to doing what you do best: serving your patients.
If you want to ensure that your privacy security and electronic health records are air-tight, contact Scale today at (501) 222-8991, or submit this form to request a consultation.