Guest Article: Safeguarding critical patient information

I’ve been researching service continuity for patients in Healthcare organizations recently. I ran across a company, Marathon Technologies, who focuses on fault tolerance in IT infrastructures and I found it interesting that they were targeting tools necessary to provide care for patients. I invited Mr. Joost Verhofstad, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Marathon, to talk a bit about what they do and how they safeguard critical patient information. I requested that he help prescribe preventative high availability solutions to ensure that unplanned system failures never come between patients and their healthcare needs.

What is the single most reason given by Healthcare IT Administrators for improving IT infrastructure? Without question, Patient Care tops every list, followed closely by federal regulations and costs. With the rise in government mandated regulations such as HIPAA, identifying ways to encourage widespread use of electronic data interchange has resulted in a surge of activity within healthcare organizations from hospitals to pharmaceutical organizations looking for ways to streamline processes that improve patient care and reduce risk. In today’s world, it is imperative that no patient ever has to wait to receive care; especially not as a result of paperwork or technology issues.

As Healthcare organizations adopt new technology to improve their efficiency, their dependence on that technology increases exponentially. Today, third party vendors handle physician paging and delivery of alert codes. Government Agencies provide call center and online assistance to potential patients in need of care. Pharmaceutical companies track critical drugs. All of these tasks are handled by an intricately designed IT Infrastructure. However, what happens to all of these critical applications if a failure were to occur? What about the integrity of the caregiver’s data in the event of a disaster?

If the IT Team implemented a high availability solution, then downtime (planned or unplanned) won’t be an issue for the patients who depend on these services. In the event of a disaster, critical patient information, including insurance information, can be accessed from alternative locations. A well planned “high availability” approach can protect critical applications and data from unplanned events ensuring service continuity to patient.

When considering an upgrade to a current healthcare IT infrastructure, many organizations will utilize complicated and complex systems like clusters which require increased staff and enormous cost while increasing failure points. In contrast, there are software solutions currently on the market that provide the highest reliability for Healthcare IT systems and maintain availability with limited administration and installation costs.

With so many different approaches to achieving “availability,” understanding not only what is best for your hospital or organization, but the solutions your partners and vendors utilize will ensure that every patient receives exceptional care when they need it. Integrating “high availability” should be at the top of organization’s list of requirements for “Improving Patient Care”.

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