The True Cost of a Healthcare Network Crash

NetgainHealthcare IT, Performance & Availability, Predictable IT Costs

Small and medium-sized healthcare facilities today often look to reduce operating costs wherever possible.  Many organizations may feel that they can reduce costs by managing their IT on-site.  In order to determine whether or not this would be a good decision for your organization, it is important to weigh the costs of paying an outside IT provider with the costs of what would happen to your organization if your network suffered a crash.  There are a few factors to consider when trying to make this determination.

What Happens When A Network Crashes In A Healthcare Organization

In the modern age of healthcare, many providers are dependent upon computer systems. Electronic Health Records, or EHRs, are used by millions of doctors and nurses.  When something goes wrong with these systems, it can be disastrous for healthcare providers as well as patients.

Consider the case of Sutter Health, a network of healthcare providers in northern California that consists of more than 50,000 medical employees, doctors, and volunteers.  On August 26, 2013, Sutter Health’s EHR system, Epic, went down for almost an entire day.  More than five different medical facilities and clinics in the Sutter network were unable to access patient records that had vital information such as medical history and prescription drug information.  Doctors and nurses had to resort to writing down notes by hand so that they could enter them into the system later. Even though a patch was released that night which resolved the problem, many hours were wasted by staff members that had to manually record data and then input it into the EHR system once it went back up.  Not only did this crash cost money to the Sutter network, it also shook patient confidence in their healthcare providers.

Even the government is not immune to network crashes.  Tech Crunch reported at the end of March that the new website that allows U.S. citizens to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act crashed on the last day that users could sign up for health insurance programs before being penalized.  Although it was designed to reduce operating costs, the ongoing issues with the new government healthcare website have lead to widespread criticism of the Affordable Care Act.

The Hard Facts On Crashes And Data Loss

When a network goes down, the costs are significant.  While the specific costs vary depending on the size of a company and the scope of the crash, studies analyzing these occurrences paint a scary picture.  In a study published by Pepperdine University, it is estimated that each megabyte of data that is lost and cannot be recovered will cost a business about $10,000.  Information Week reported in late 2012 that according to the National Archives and Records Administration, 93% of businesses that lost access to their data center for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy.  Even if data can be recovered, a business will lose out on employee productivity during this time.

What Can Be Done About Healthcare Network Crashes

Many healthcare organizations these days are looking to reduce operating costs by cutting down on expenditures.  However, when you weigh the costs of an IT crash against the fee that you will pay to have an IT company to manage your healthcare needs, you may find that it does not make sense to manage your IT onsite.  A skilled healthcare IT firm will provide personalized service, keep IT servers up to date, and make sure that you never have to worry about a crash or other incident that compromises the effectiveness of your healthcare network.

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