Sep 21 2017

Strategize for Disaster Recovery: 3 Elements for Providers to Consider

To ensure backup and continuity of operations amid weather catastrophes, healthcare organizations must plan accordingly.

Natural disasters like hurricanes Irma and Harvey present massive downtime threats to hospital IT systems. Considering the potential risks to patient safety, provider organizations can ill afford for their technology infrastructures to fail due to inclement weather or in any other situation.

A DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) offering can ensure uptime of applications. Rather than relying solely on a second physical data center, organizations increasingly are deploying multilayered disaster recovery plans that take advantage of the power and flexibility of the cloud.

What elements should healthcare IT leaders consider when making such a decision? Here are three.

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1. Choose DRaaS Partners Wisely

HIMSS Analytics survey finds that disaster recovery and backup functionality come to mind for 84 percent of respondents when they think about cloud services. What’s more, use of the cloud for disaster recovery has climbed dramatically (to 61 percent through 2016, up from 42 percent in 2014).

Not all workloads need to be part of a disaster recovery plan. Organizations must pick workloads that can be functional in a disaster to keep critical services up and running.

2. Keep Partner Geography in Mind

Just because an organization’s information and applications are backed up in the cloud does not guarantee they aren’t still susceptible to a disaster. If the cloud service provider is in the same city as the organization when a tornado strikes, the backups still could be at risk. Organizations must keep geography in mind when selecting a DRaaS partner. A reliable DRaaS provider will be able to deploy services in multiple regions.

3. Test Your Disaster Recovery Solution

One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is developing a DRaaS solution and failing to adequately and frequently update and test it. As an organization makes changes to its on-premises infrastructure, it must make sure that the DRaaS solution is updated to handle the changes. Once these changes are made, the organization should test the solution to make sure it will function properly.

If possible, such as in cases like hurricanes Irma and Harvey for which there was time to prepare, implementing the DRaaS solution prior to the actual event can provide some peace of mind. An organization can ensure that the solution is working properly ahead of time, which lets it focus on local issues that may arise during the disaster.

Don’t Dismiss Old-Fashioned Protection

Even with an updated infrastructure and a robust DRaaS agreement in place, some experts believe that organizations could benefit from a low-tech backup setup — tape or modular flash stored offsite — to provide yet another layer of protection for data and applications.

What’s more, as Mount Sinai Chief Medical Information Officer Bruce Darrow told HealthTech, organizations must establish clear downtime processes to ensure that digital natives and former paper pushers alike will know what steps to take in the event of an emergency.

Disaster recovery involves processes and planning just as much as anything else,” he said.

Make sure your organization is well prepared.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #WellnessIT hashtag.

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