Human life. That’s what’s at stake when evaluating whether or not your EHR system is considered highly available – a.k.a. always operational. With patient and resident care being a 24×7 job, the importance of your software and hardware availability can’t be overlooked.
Many EHR software providers have moved their platform to the web. There are pros and cons to be made, but it’s hard to argue its convenience:
- updates are done by the vendor;
- data storage and backups are performed by the vendor; and
- software can be accessed anywhere there’s a web browser.
However, using web-based software has also lulled many operators into a false sense of security. Think about whether or not the equipment your internet comes through is directly connected to the facility’s emergency generator. If all of your network equipment is plugged into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), is the UPS connected to the facility’s emergency generator? If not, uptime on a UPS is limited. If you utilize portable devices, are the batteries fully charged? Are the spare batteries charged? How long will they last? Other device options include tablets, cell phones and other smart devices that are subscription-based.
Many EHR software providers include an automated workflow that will copy specific data to a single computer’s hard drive, provided the computer is connected to the network. In the event of an outage, staff members would go to the designated computer to access the eMARs and other pertinent data. It’s important to remember that the computer has to be connected to an emergency power source, and the automated process has to be properly configured and periodically tested by staff members.
In today’s world, technology plays a major role in business continuity, which circles back to always being able to provide quality care to residents and patients. Regardless of how you access EHR software, be sure to review the emergency plan with your staff and know which data will be available during an outage. Whether you’re in the middle of a full blown disaster or executing a small part of the plan to deal with an outage, your contingency plan is only as good as its weakest link.