A possible nightmare scenario for a Community Hospital relying on EHR/EMR.

A community hospital in Boulder Colorado is facing a major challenge this week because it’s computer system has failed.  The IT professionals handling the outage have not been able to determine what caused the issue, or if it is related to hacking.  These types of warning signs should grab the attention of hospital and medical practice administrators around the country.

Boulder Community Hospital uses the EHR system called Meditech.  This outage has not only effected the hospital, but also eight laboratories and six imaging centers.  This is why we always stress to our clients that you need to have a backup situation in place if you choose to go with an EHR system.  Please don’t misunderstand, we do think EHR is a good idea for healthcare.  We have seen how technology has helped so many other industries, but since this is still fairly new to our sector, we need to ensure there are real backup plans in place.

One idea that all systems should deploy is redundancy. This increases the cost of the EHR system you select, but it can avoid long outages like the one the Boulder hospital is dealing with.  What you can do is pretty much mirror your system using a RAID technology.  This allows you to bring your backup system online when the primary one goes down.  If you have worked in the IT industry, you know that it’s not “if” a system will go down…..but “when” it will go down.  Deploying this type of system is not simple, but when there is a critical emergency, you will be happy it was setup.

So what are the physicians dealing with exactly during this outage?  Well…..everything was entered into the EHR system, including surgery scheduling, test results, and routine appointments to name just a few.  Everyone is scrambling to find paper records to get background on patients, and they are writing down what they are currently doing so they can be entered into the system when it’s back online.

There are a ton of IT companies that specialize in EHR implementation, make sure you choose one that at least touches upon the need for a real backup plan.  We do think EHR is here to stay……but lets make sure we don’t take any shortcuts….because there are literally lives on the line.


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