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Disaster Recovery and Healthcare

Disaster Recovery and Healthcare
Yvonne Rodgers - Account CTO - Healthcare (Americas - East) | June 6, 2017
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Disaster Recovery (DR) is mentioned so frequently in IT, that it has gradually lost its significance.

Businesses assume that because their IT providers have a sound DR plan or architecture in place, they are secure from a technological disaster. The worldwide Delta crash a few months ago, that held most of us hostage proved otherwise.

I am certain that Delta believed their IT disaster recovery plan was impenetrable. As some of us experienced, however, that premise was tested at a great cost. Having spent 13 hours in the airport waiting to be boarded, motionless on the tarmac awaiting take-off - and finally waiting to de-plane. Not a pleasant experience.

That experience does not even address the millions, if not billions of dollars in lost revenues. In addition, the resultant aftershock unleashed a domino effect. Delta will take months, if not longer to recover from this incident. At this point, they may implement the most technologically robust architected solution available, but the credibility lost is massive.

In the Healthcare domain, the premise of believing that a DR facility, solution or framework is intact and ready to be tested cannot be accepted based solely on trust. In Healthcare, our lives are literally in the balance. Life and death are weighed against the ability to technically recover our systems in an effective and efficient manner. With our lives slowly transitioning to the digital era, it is imperative that we verify and validate this belief.

Why do these things occur you may ask?

If the business has approved and funded an IT budget to address disaster recovery, then why are so many disasters not recovered in a timely fashion? The answer stems from several semi-formed assumptions, without effective validation. To touch upon some instances, it can occur when the business does not provide tangible objectives to IT.

Your IT provider does not in every case comprehend your enterprise vision. They may be the most brilliant architects or engineers available, but if they are not given context as to organizational direction and the immense criticality of what can and cannot be tolerated, they would fail to craft a solution that would adhere to your needs.

At worst, the assumption of an effective DR will loom untested and unrealized, with the impact only fully appreciated when a disaster occurs.

In addition, investing in something as critical as a disaster recovery model and the right disaster recovery service provider, particularly in Healthcare, is essential. The price of the investment tends to far outweigh the negative cost to the business in a failure scenario. As leaders in Healthcare, we often don’t appreciate that in order for a seamless recovery experience to occur, an investment in the correct IT service provider with the best talent and technology is imperative.

Further, the recovery aspect of the disaster cannot be left for evaluation, in a post-crisis scenario.

It’s important to remember that technology is rapidly advancing and transforming, — new solutions are increasingly available. A DR solution is not something you can set and forget. It must be managed, maintained, and most importantly tested. Selecting the appropriate service provider abreast of these advances while continuously educating you on how your business can secure an advantage, is essential. I cannot stress this enough. In the past, businesses felt a sense of security knowing their data was being backed up. Often, however, that sense of security was tarnished when the time came to actually recover their data and found it to be corrupt. It is no different now. Technology may have advanced to provide us with innovative ways to recover, but if businesses and IT do not seamlessly collaborate to check this premise, it places the firm with a higher probability of failure. Not to mention, the intelligence gathered through exercising the DR tends to validate the assumptions made during the design. This is a critical step often overlooked.

A DR solution is not something you can set and forget. It must be managed, maintained, and most importantly tested.

In short, DR like most technology solutions requires synergy between IT and businesses. Do not assume that either understands or appreciates the necessary nuances needed to make both successful.

DR like most technology solutions requires synergy between IT and businesses

At the end of the day, the user/patient is not interested in understanding why it failed, they just know it failed. In Delta’s instance, inconvenience and time were the primary results of the failure. In Healthcare, however, such a luxury cannot be afforded. It is important that as technology leaders we use our voice and understanding to assist in not only pushing modernization - enhancing the user’s or patient’s experience - but that we bridge any lacunae between IT capabilities and organizational requisites.

I am forever an evangelist of adopting technology successfully in Healthcare and understanding the grave commitment that it entails. I ask that you consider these aspects when promoting technology within various Healthcare verticals.

After all, we all are patients and consumers of this service. Our life may depend on it.


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