By Rob Quinn, Vice President of Global Product Marketing at BridgeHead Software
EMR downtime can be devastating. Medical professionals require precise and up-to-date information in order to make informed decisions for their patients. As healthcare is an incredibly time-sensitive industry, even the smallest issues can have massive consequences. Electronic medical record (EMR) systems that have been designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery, can often become an obstacle when they are subject to EMR downtime. When this happens, it is crucial that physicians have alternate access to that information in order to facilitate the continuity of care.
BridgeHead offers the immediate availability of critical patient data, at the point of care, in a way that is consistent with the clinical workflow and, thereby, providing physicians with the information they need to confidently care for their patients even when access to their primary systems may be compromised.
What Is Downtime?
Downtime can mean a lot of different things to hospitals. Firstly, there is planned downtime. Applications must be updated on a frequent basis and, during this process, even the most efficient operations can take up to four to six hours to complete. But, often, it is much longer – especially for larger applications like EMR and PACS applications. This planned EMR downtime, while inconvenient, is necessary in order to keep the hospital’s applications up-to-date, with the latest features, functions, fixes and patches to ensure continued smooth operation.
But, planned downtime is not just within the purview of applications; it’s much the same with hardware, such as the storage systems on which the application data resides. The average life of storage hardware is between 3 and 5 years, by which time these systems need to be upgraded or replaced. These activities also require planned downtime in order to update the infrastructure, which can also impact the availability of the data residing on these systems
At the other end of the scale is unplanned downtime. Unplanned downtime often comes in the form of software and hardware failures, data corruptions, cyberattacks and/or natural disasters. These pose a greater threat to the integrity and efficacy of a hospital and, if the news tells us anything, cyberattacks in particular are happening on a near constant cycle. A lack of preparedness for these situations can cost healthcare organizations tens of millions of dollars – money that many of these organizations don’t have.
Due to the varied causes of downtime, healthcare organizations need technology that is adaptive to a large set of problems. When implemented, BridgeHead’s solutions afford medical providers the means to access data, whether the problem is as simple as a glitch, or as catastrophic as a national emergency.
High Stakes Require Robust Data Management Solutions
Part of what makes EMR downtime such an issue is the high stakes in the healthcare industry. Consider the role a radiologist plays at the point of care. Hospitals have a finite number of radiologists on staff, all of whom must process as many patients as is reasonably possible in a given timeframe. In a situation where a radiologist cannot retrieve the data they need to diagnose a patient; they’re effectively operating blind. Not only does that inhibit the radiologist’s ability to help the patient, but it may prevent other patients from being served.
The cascading impact of this type of issue can have resounding effects within a healthcare environment. If a patient needs to be treated, but the latest results are not available, labs or images may have to be retaken. Repeating tests delays treatment decisions for the patient, takes time away from other patients and, from an operational standpoint, incurs extra costs for tests that should not have been necessary.
Without access to a patient’s medical history, providers must take a much more conservative approach to treatment based on the available information at their disposal, which is often what the patient is able to convey and what presents during consultation. This invariably means it takes longer to consult and diagnose patients and their treatment must be approached with extra caution. Neglecting to do so can have dire consequences.
HealthStore® helps healthcare providers overcome the challenges associated with access to data during planned or unplanned downtime. As HealthStore® separates the data from the application that created it and the storage on which that data resides, healthcare organizations can provide clinicians and support staff with access to this information from alternative locations. All they need is an internet connection and the right credentials to access and view all of the patient and administrative data held within HealthStore®, blending neatly into their workflow.
Rob is responsible for go-to-marketing activities for BridgeHead’s clinical data management solutions. For the last 17 years he has worked in the high-tech field helping organizations within healthcare, life sciences, and finance more efficiently manage and analyze data. Rob started his career as an engineer at Raytheon building missiles for the United States Military before migrating to Product Management and Product Marketing roles within software companies such as The MathWorks, Oracle, and Agfa healthcare.
Rob holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the UMASS Lowell and an MBA from UMASS Amherst.