Guide to business continuity and performance in Healthcare

Within healthcare facilities, high availability of systems is a key influencer of revenue and patient safety and satisfaction. Three important critical success factors need to be addressed in order to achieve safety and availability goals. These include exceeding the facility’s level of regulatory compliance, a linking of business benefits to the maintenance of a safe and an “always on” power and ventilation environment, and a sensible approach to technology upgrades that includes new strategies for “selling” technological improvements to executives. This reference guide offers recommendations for identifying and addressing each of these issues.

The mission-critical nature of hospitals and healthcare facilities requires that stakeholders build their business around a philosophy of high availability of services. At the physical level this implies the design and deployment of data and power networks that support availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery goals. In fact, the terms “disaster recovery,” “business continuity,” and “availability” are all somewhat different but are closely related. These terms imply an ecosystem that is always on and operational and whose uptime is critical to the players making up the parts of that ecosystem. 

In the case of healthcare facilities, whether the physical infrastructure of electrical power, cooling, and computing power are functioning (or not) link directly to the safety of human lives and the profitability of the institution. Most hospitals and clinics deploy generators and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) products to protect against disasters and outages, but generally speaking, there is no single product or procedure that protects an entire facility. Instead, there are layers of protection, redundant systems in the most critical areas of the hospital and multiple procedures, standards, and rules to follow. In the event of actual damage from disasters, system restoration practices must also be clearly defined. Healthcare facilities have exceptionally low tolerances for power disruptions. Minor fluctuations can impact the delicate voltage requirements of MRI and CT scanners, for example. More extensive power events can affect life support systems, as well as critical ancillary infrastructure systems such as HVAC, communications, records management and security.

A true disaster recovery strategy needs to be holistic. The plan must take into account how key facility systems interact and support each other. This includes the electrical architecture, the building management system, the heating, ventilation and cooling controls, lighting systems, the data center and hospital information system, security cameras and access control systems, medical equipment and modalities, and specialized systems for critical areas such as operating theaters. As technology networks evolve, the ability to assure the availability of both business processes and the technology backbone that supports those processes becomes increasingly critical. 

Business specific trends within the healthcare industry, including an aging population, shrinking budgets, increasing patient population, growth of outpatient facilities, the need for actionable data, transition to digital and mobile technology platforms, regulatory compliance, prevention of healthcare-acquired infections, improved bed turnover, and the need for more hospital operational efficiency, are driving new ways of managing and adapting healthcare facilities. New technologies have altered healthcare administration methodologies and the ways that patients access healthcare services.

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