If you think your hospital could be better prepared for an EMR downtime – You’re probably right
Downtime Protection Solutions are integral to every hospital’s Emergency Contingency Plan because they provide access to patient data and registration workflows during EMR & Network downtime events.
As you evaluate downtime solutions, please consider these 5 key lessons we uncovered during conversations with HIT and patient access personnel familiar with hospital downtime procedures.
1. Protect against scheduled and “surprise” downtimes
Modern EMR’s require downtime on average every 6 weeks for software & firmware updates and other maintenance. Staff can prepare for scheduled downtimes, but fair less well during “surprise” downtimes occurring during peak hours forcing staff to scramble in paper-mode for an extended period of time.
Most hospitals interviewed reported a surprise downtime within the last 12 months.
2. Decrease recovery time with data and document transfers
Recovery time is the time needed to record downtime data into the EMR. Hospitals report their Electronic Document Management (EDM) goes down simultaneously with the EMR, and this extends recovery time to include updating the EDM with insurance cards, driver’s licenses & signed waivers.
An ideal solution reduces recovery time by replicating normal registration processes.
3. Address EMR AND NETWORK downtime events
Downtimes don’t always occur because of the EMR. Network failures can create EMR downtimes, especially when accessed via remote data centers. Downtime Solutions often fall short because they rely on network accessibility to provide user access to patient data and registration workflows.
Advanced downtime solutions will provide access regardless of the network status.
4. Secure accountability with PHI audit trails
Your obligation to protect and secure PHI doesn’t end because you’re using paper to review and record PHI during a downtime event. Paper-based downtime solutions for the review of patient data and recording of new encounters simply can’t provide an audit trail of use.
Downtime solutions will provide an audit trail by encounter, employee and function.
5. Improve registration data with input controls and MPI access
Capturing quality registration data is key to a successful downtime solution, however many hospitals still use paper solutions that lack input controls and access to historical data. The time to key paper forms back into the EMR is time consuming with data validations, analysis & corrections that often extend well beyond the immediate post-downtime event and create billing delays.