Healthcare systems often ignore the importance of infrastructure to their success. Industries such as IT and financial services invest heavily in infrastructure to protect their capability to conduct business. Recent disasters have proven that the healthcare industry may need to follow that trend.
Disaster planning is a hot topic for healthcare systems. This is especially important for hospitals in seasonal danger zones for natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, which encompasses most of the Midwest and East Coast.
Healthcare can learn from the IT and financial services industries.
Wise people take good notes on how others solve problems. With that in mind, much can be learned from data centers and the physical infrastructure financial services companies have used to protect the integrity of transactions from natural disasters and other potential disruptions—it is impressive.
The ‘why’ for hospitals is pretty clear, lives are at stake. Hospitals are an expected safe haven for the community—“essential facilities” as defined in the building and life safety codes. They need to be dependable resources.
The LeeSar Regional Service Center increases the capacity to serve patients. Get more details about the project »
How well can your healthcare facility function under duress?
Hospitals must maintain the capability to treat patients under any circumstances. To do that, medical records must be accessible whenever patients need to be treated. To keep records secure, they may be stored safely off-site, but the on-site functions of the hospital must be running in order to access them. Beyond patient data, hospitals house valuable equipment, controlled substances and dependent patients that must be secure at all times.
Just like their financial services counterparts, compelling reasons exist for investing in essential infrastructure.
Healthcare reform will bring changes in patients’ priorities.
As a prospective healthcare buyer-consumer-patient in the healthcare reform era, three priorities are likely to emerge:
- Is the care quality (physician team and institution) the best available given my condition and constraints (travel, money, options)?
- Is my health data (electronic medical record, EMR) accessible yet secure?
- Does my hospital have the infrastructure to continue operations through most common outside disruptions (terrorism, utility shortage, weather / natural disasters)?
Priorities two and three rely either directly or indirectly on infrastructure.
It takes weeks to recover from a flood or tornado. Code minimums are not going to cut it in the future (see Joplin, MO, NYC, NY or Moore, OK). Patients need hospitals that can operate functionally for extended periods—potentially weeks rather than hours—in disaster situations.