EHRs Make Contingency Planning Urgent

Interview with Mitch Morris, M.D., principal, Deloitte Consulting's life sciences and health care practiceAs hospitals and clinics fully implement electronic health records systems, they need to develop far more detailed contingency plans, says Mitch Morris, M.D., of Deloitte Consulting.

In an exclusive interview, Morris stresses that healthcare organizations must focus their "business continuity" planning first on assuring the availability of "life-critical" clinical systems, with financial or "business" systems a secondary priority.

He offers other advice on disaster recovery planning, including:

  • Update the plan annually, with a comprehensive overhaul every three years; Involve physicians and nurses in assessing the risks involved if core clinical systems are disrupted;
  • Address key areas of vulnerability, including a lack of staff on hand during a disaster and insufficient emergency power generators and fuel;
  • Develop a plan for running the organization the old-fashioned way, with paper-based systems, should all systems be unavailable;
  • Implement redundant Internet access and telecommunications systems; and Make arrangements for a backup data center located in an area that's not prone to the same disasters as the region where your organization is located.

Morris is principal at Deloitte Consulting's life sciences and healthcare practice, serving as the firm's national leader for health IT. He has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare administration, research, technology, education and clinical care. Previously, he served as senior vice president for healthcare systems and CIO at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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