The importance of care continuity during both planned and unplanned downtime for healthcare providers cannot be overstated. For patients, lack of timely access to care could mean the difference between life and death.
But according to a recent report published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the U.S. healthcare system overall is not well prepared for catastrophic disasters. Part of the problem: Many major medical centers lack plans specific to such events.
“The structures and assumptions that underpin the way in which disaster healthcare in the United States is planned for and provided are decades old and may no longer be consistent with the existing healthcare landscape,” the authors say.
Technology can play a vital role in helping organizations to change that narrative. In some instances, it already has.
Health IT Makes Way for Continuous Care
Last summer, for example, Nemours Children’s Health System in Orlando, Fla., leveraged telemedicine and the cloud to provide continuous care to patients during Hurricane Irma. It made consults free during the storm and also extended service to Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
After a direct hit from an EF5-rated tornado in 2011, St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., relied heavily on Voice over IP systems, Wi-Fi, battery-powered medical carts and more to deliver care in a makeshift tent clinic. At the rebuilt facility, now known as Mercy Hospital Joplin, the IT team has invested heavily in the network and other technologies to ensure reliability and care continuity.
Many organizations also are shifting to cloud or hybrid cloud environments to scale storage and better protect patient data from disasters and hackers. University of Utah Health, for instance, turned to hybrid cloud to improve flexibility and reliability of its storage setup. Read about the benefits the organization is reaping in “Hybrid Cloud Deployments Offer Improved Flexibility to Healthcare Organizations".
Disaster can strike anytime and anywhere. Technology can help healthcare organizations weather all potential events and provide continued service to those most in need.