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    How to survive an EHR outage

    Most physicians have plans for responding to computer system failures, but many don’t revisit those disaster recovery/business continuity plans with any regularity.

    The reliability of computer systems is much higher now than it used to be, but failures still occur—whether they stem from short-term power outages, lost internet connections or crippling malware attacks. And with more than 80% of physicians using computers, an electronic health record (EHR) system that goes down could bring a practice to a screeching halt.

    “It is really incumbent on small physician practices to understand what it takes to keep the business running in case of a disaster,” says Michael McCoy, MD, chief executive officer of the consulting firm Physician Technology Services Inc.

    Develop a recovery plan, and revisit it

    Develop a plan and revisit it on a regular schedule to ensure it adequately addresses the latest additions and updates to your EHR system as well as the ancillary computer systems that connect to it, McCoy says. He adds that it’s worthwhile to work with a consultant who specializes in disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

    Practice those plans

    Diligent practices might think they’re prepared simply because they have a disaster recovery plan and are taking  proactive steps, such as backing up EHR files. But medical offices that suffer an extended outage often find they’re not able to cope due to lack of practical experience and/or problems in their plans, McCoy says. Drills will not only give staff that practical experience, they will reveal any unforeseen problems, such as corrupted backup files.

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