Healthcare facilities have always been susceptible to IT outages. However, the increased adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other digital tools has increased the risk of downtime. In a study by Ponemon Institute, the average cost of downtime costs $7,900 per minute for hospitals, putting hospitals at risk of exposing sensitive data and patient records.
In healthcare, unplanned downtime can be catastrophic. Hospitals are complex systems that require constant monitoring and management to ensure they run smoothly. This type of mission-critical infrastructure requires a high level of uptime in order to provide the best care possible for patients.
But what if your hospital’s EHR goes down? What if it happens right when you need it most?
Understanding hospital EHR downtime disruptions
EHR downtime—the time when a hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) system is not working—is a serious problem. EHR downtime can lead to delays in care and result in financial losses. To avoid these problems, hospitals must take steps to ensure that their EHRs are reliable.
How does EHR downtime affect patients?
- Risks to patient safety: When an EHR system is down, it may be difficult for doctors to access medical records or make sure they give accurate information about medications or allergies. Without an effective means of communicating with other physicians about their patients’ conditions, doctors may make incorrect diagnoses or administer medications incorrectly. This can lead to patient safety issues such as infections and allergic reactions due to improper medication use
- Risks to privacy: During times of system failure, medical records may become inaccessible; this means that there is no way for providers or staff members who do not have access rights on file within the hospital’s networked systems (such as radiology technicians) can see them without being able to log into them directly. This would lead to compromising otherwise secure passwords/passphrases or trying out different combinations until one works again after reboot.
Impact of unplanned hospital EHR downtime
1. Cost of downtime
The most obvious cost associated with hospital EHR downtime is the direct loss of revenue. If the system is down for a significant amount of time, you’ll lose money on every patient whose appointment was canceled or rescheduled, as well as any additional costs related to health information exchange (HIE) service costs and other processes that rely on your EHR.
2. Impact on patient care
When your EHR is down, it’s more difficult for clinicians to access critical patient data—and this can have a negative impact on clinical decision-making and patient safety. It also means that patients may experience longer wait times in both scheduling appointments and getting access to their records during the appointment itself.
3. Impact on staff morale and loyalty
Staff members are likely already overworked when they’re not able to use their technology-enabled systems; when they’re unable to access those systems even briefly during an outage, frustration levels skyrocket—which can lead employees who were already feeling under-appreciated toward someone else’s organization rather than yours!
4. Regulatory compliance issues
Anytime there’s an EHR outage affecting multiple facilities like yours across multiple states/regions, there’s potential for significant fines from regulatory bodies such as CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act), HITECH Act penalties), etc.
Practice disaster recovery before you need to use it
Fortunately, you can mitigate the risk of downtime by practicing disaster recovery before it’s necessary. The first step to creating a successful plan is identifying your backup and recovery protocols.
For instance, you’ll want to ensure that your data is up-to-date and backed up regularly. You should also test these backups periodically to ensure they’re working correctly and know how long it takes them to be fully functional once they go into effect.
Once these systems are in place, work with all stakeholders (including IT) on an emergency response plan that explains what each department should do if something goes wrong at their end. This plan should include detailed instructions for accessing critical information when there are problems with internal systems or external resources, such as Internet connectivity or power outages in your hospital’s area.
Our final thoughts
Healthcare facilities and health IT professionals should not rely on overcoming the complexities of unplanned downtime by themselves. EHR downtime is a common problem for hospitals and can be easily avoided with the right planning. By simulating unplanned downtime and implementing a strategy for responding to it when it occurs, organizations can better prepare for the realities of healthcare IT. At Parried, we serve healthcare and help hospitals avoid EHR downtime with proactive monitoring, management, and maintenance of IT systems. Learn more about our managed IT services for hospitals to protect your sensitive information today.