Your healthcare enterprise is an integral part of the lives of your patients and customers. You rely on data and access to digital systems in order to provide the best possible care and service.
What happens when a disaster -- either natural or manmade -- results in the loss of data or key technologies? The consequences can be dire for you, and your patients/customers.
That's why healthcare companies are required to develop a disaster recovery plan, which minimizes the downtime you and your business face should an incident occur.
What Is IT Disaster Recovery Planning?
Disaster recovery planning is an essential component of a larger business continuity plan.
Business continuity plans includes the broad, high-level organizational plans, procedures, strategies and roles that ensure that a company can recover, resume and continue operations as soon as possible after disaster strikes.
Business continuity planning includes evaluating all possible threats, assessing the likelihood of the disaster occurring, identifying potential solutions, prioritizing the sequence of recovery efforts, establishing clear guidelines for operations and communications during the disaster recovery and regularly training every employee on those processes.
IT disaster recovery planning is an important part of business continuity planning. It is a tactical subset of business continuity plans that focuses on stabilizing the technology infrastructure, retrieving and restoring data and applications required for healthcare businesses to operate.
What Constitutes a Disaster?
Disasters generally fall into one of these categories:
- Natural Disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, earthquakes, lightning strikes and other naturally occurring incidents that can disrupt operations.
- Man-made Disasters. Cybercriminals who are increasingly targeting businesses with various types of attacks. In some cases, hackers are infiltrating systems to steal and sell data to other criminals. In other instances, cyberattacks hold your technology systems hostage until you pay a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
- Structural Disasters. When there's a prolonged loss of power or other utilities your company can become inoperable for days or weeks.
Why Is IT Disaster Recovery Necessary?
Data security is a top priority for healthcare companies. Having a plan in place to address the rapid recovery from data loss or disruption is essential. Here are some of the key reasons why having an IT disaster recovery plan is essential:
- Regulatory mandates. HIPAA and other federal or state guidelines require you to keep patient data secure. A loss of that data can have serious operational challenges and ominous consequences from regulators resulting in large fines, penalties and sanctions.
- Brand confidence. The negative publicity from A data breach can quickly erode patient and customer confidence in your healthcare business.
- Financial loss. If your organization cannot operate due to data loss, financial ruin can result.
- Business viability. A study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that within a year of a disaster, 90 percent of smaller businesses fail if they could not resume operations within 5 days.
What Role Can the Cloud Play in Disaster Recovery?
The cloud can be an integral component to a sound disaster recovery plan. With the massive amounts of data generated by healthcare companies, one needs a convenient and secure storage and security solution.
The cloud is the smart choice for data storage and disaster recovery , especially a managed IT services provider like CloudSAFE to monitor, manage and protect your data and applications.
Cloud storage is more safe and secure than other solutions making it an affordable and reliable option for healthcare businesses. Redundant cloud storage acts as a failsafe for your data from a natural disaster, cyberattack or even a system crash.
What you need to determine before starting to formulate a Disaster Recovery Plan?
There are two factors to calculate at the very beginning so you understand how to prioritize your plan:
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO).This is a measure of how long your company's systems can be inoperable before it begins to seriously hinder your business. It's the optimal time before operations are restored to avoid major impact.
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO).This is a moment in time. If a disaster strikes, how far back are you willing to go to retrieve your data? This calculation determines how frequently backups are run on your data, how long they take and how much storage space is necessary.
What Are the Essential Elements of a Prudent IT Disaster Recovery Plan?
Here are 5 key considerations that should be a part of your disaster recovery plan:
- Every Scenario.strong> No matter what the type of disaster you are facing, you need to have a plan worked out well in advance for every scenario. From storms and wildfires to road closures and biological hazards, your disaster recovery plan needs to be applicable to each foreseeable situation.
- Communication.strong> Your employees, customers, vendors and patients need to be continually informed of the progress being made to restore normal operations. That's why a communications plan is a key component of disaster recovery.
- IT Asset Inventory.strong> You need a record of each system, each computer, each software application, each server, each piece of equipment and every other component of your network. Asset data should include make, model, serial number, date purchased and purchase price.
- Document Recovery.strong> Today, disaster recovery focuses on the digital, but there are paper documents that may also need to be protected or salvaged.
- Trusted Partner.strong> During a disaster, you should use the skills of business professionals with an experienced, steady hand guiding your recovery work. With a managed services provider, your healthcare company will have a partner who knows your data, applications and systems. An MSP can help in the development of your healthcare IT disaster recovery plan, along with testing and training.
At CloudSAFE, we work with healthcare companies to develop strategic solutions for their most pressing IT needs, from cloud services to disaster recovery as a service. We provide disaster recovery no matter where your data is hosted with a customized solution designed to meet your unique needs.
To learn more about how CloudSAFE can help you prepare for the unexpected, contact us today.