Disaster Recovery Basics for Senior Living and Post-Acute Care Providers

Written by Berry Brunk, CIO Consultant at VCPI

Hurricane Sandy last week reminds us of the supreme power of Mother Nature. It will be hard to forget the astounding pictures of New York City subway stations full of water but empty of people; a massive roller coaster structure submerged in seawater; and a long line of ambulances evacuating patients from NYU. What Mother Nature hath wrought man cannot undo. However, what man can do is plan—carefully and judiciously—for the possibility of some calamitous event occurring (man-made or not) in your own back yard.

As a company devoted to providing information technology services to hundreds of Senior Living and Post-Acute Care organizations, VCPI recognizes the importance of careful disaster recovery planning. Our customers depend on us to safeguard their data and we have spent a great deal of time, money, and effort on determining how WE will respond in the face of disaster. So, in light of Hurricane Sandy, we are providing a list of disaster recovery and business continuity “basics” – themes or topics which, if you are not already thinking about, you should be…

  1. Business Continuity Plan – allows a facility or business to operate through a period of interruption of technology or infrastructure. Using predetermined and mainly manual processes or technology, you can mitigate the consequences of the interruption.
  2. Business Impact Analysis – an analysis of daily operations identifying and documenting the value of each business function (an example of a business function would be Admissions).  Each business function, its technology and the infrastructure (phones, Internet…) can be planned for according to its value.
  3. Disaster Recovery Plan – allows recovery of IT and infrastructure resulting from an extended interruption, and concentrates on the replacement of damaged equipment as well as the data recovery processes.
  4. Emergency Response Plan – planned and documented responses to events threatening the life and/or safety of staff and residents. A typical component is an evacuation process for fires.
  5. Media – plan to control media (tapes, CDs…) so it can be used effectively for recovery processes under the Disaster Recovery Plan.
  6. Threat and Vulnerability Assessment – identifies and prioritizes the risk of a business-interrupting event so plans can be made to prevent, respond to, mitigate, and recover from the event and its consequences. One almost universal event is a building fire.
  7. Crisis Management Plan – a formal set of skeletal plans initiated when it is determined the standard problem management process cannot address an event and a majority of management is required to respond to avoid detriment to the business, staff, residents, and stakeholders.
  8. Training – training and awareness as well as personal preparedness of staff, residents, and their families in the wake of an event.
  9. Command Center – a secure place where members of the crisis management and recovery teams agree to meet to control the processes for addressing a business interruption or an event threatening some aspect of the business. A command center can be a physical place, a set of conference call lines, an internet tool, or some combination.
  10. Technology – employed to assist in performing business functions. Some technology is important enough to require redundancies in case of failure.
  11. Data Backup Plan – documented procedures to create and maintain retrievable exact copies of critical data and related technology components necessary for recovery activities. 

Contact us and we will provide you additional detail and assistance in understanding the needs of your organization/facility.