Disaster Recovery Planning Essential in a Connected Healthcare Environment

Disaster Recovery Planning Essential in a Connected Healthcare Environment

While we are successfully recovering from Hurricane Irma here in Tampa (with no major damage and no service outage, thankfully), the numbers have started to roll in from Harvey a few weeks ago. Despite Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey’s devastating impact in terms of lives lost/displaced and estimated $23 billion property damage in Texas’ Harris and Galveston counties, things could have been much worse if not for the region’s heads-up health IT disaster planning.

Four days after the storm’s landfall, all the electronic health record systems at all the hospitals in Houston appeared to be in “regular working order,” according to Nick Bonvino, CEO of Greater Houston Healthconnect (GHHC), the region’s health information exchange (HIE). GHHC had previously partnered with Health Access San Antonio, the HIE serving a large expanse of central Texas, to establish a statewide hub for Texas HIEs with remote siting and data storage in Salt Lake City.

“If a hospital backs up all of its information to a data center down the block, which is also flooded, that’s not a sufficient solution,” Andrew Gettinger, MD, chief medical information officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, recently told Health Data Management. “You have to think about the geography that’s likely to be at risk and make sure that your backup solution takes care of that so you can recover.”

Indeed, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in 2012, healthcare data centers situated in low-lying areas — many in hospital basements — suffered catastrophic flood damage, Gettinger emphasized. Those losses underscored the need for backup systems located out of harm’s way.

Disaster recovery planning

Aside from natural disasters, health care organizations also need to prepare for cyber-threats, such as denial-of-service and ransomware attacks, which can render IT systems inoperable or data inaccessible.

According to Jeremy Molnar, vice president of services for information security firm Cynergistek, proper disaster recovery (DR) planning starts with the assignment of a project manager responsible for implementing a cohesive strategy. Other organizational experts develop needed processes and documentation to support the project manager.

Additional key aspects include:

  • identification of critical data, applications, systems, and personnel;
  • requirements for data backup and emergency-mode operations planning;
  • ongoing testing of and revisions to each component of the DR plan; and
  • assurance of contingency planning in compliance with HIPAA rules, which mandate security risk assessments. Such assessments evaluate the likelihood and impact of exposing protected health information and document the security measures adopted to address identified risks.

State of the industry

Peak 10, an IT infrastructure solutions company, found in its “IT Trends in Healthcare” study that most healthcare organizations execute DR testing less than once annually. Only 25 percent test quarterly.

What’s more eye-opening, the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council estimates that more than 65 percent of organizations who test their DR plan actually fail their own test. Since so many organizations don’t pass their own tests, Peak 10 points out that those who neglect — or elect not to — test “simply won’t recover IT operations sufficiently if disaster [occurs], which in a hospital setting, is a risk not worth taking.”

NetDirector helps mitigate DR concerns by partnering with best-in-class technology companies to provide an “industrial-strength” data exchange platform hosted at a Peak 10 data center. Peak 10 is current with all applicable data security certifications and regulations, including HIPAA.

Additionally, NetDirector connects to multiple data centers in different geographic locations that are continuously updated and available to seamlessly go live as needed. This fault-tolerant set-up provides clients with built-in DR and hot-site swapping capabilities, ensuring minimal to zero disruption. NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange also reduces the need for scheduled maintenance and its accompanying temporary downtime.

For more information, please contact us or request a free demo.

NetDirector makes Inc. 5000 for 6th Consecutive Year

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — NetDirector, a leading cloud-based integration and data exchange provider, has been named as a member of the prestigious Inc. 5000 list for the 6th consecutive year, a recipient of the GrowFL “Companies to Watch” award, and a member of the Gulf Coast 500 by Business Observer FL.

Companies like NetDirector that are included on the Inc. 5000 list are among the top companies in the nation, having demonstrated the highest growth in revenue over the last three years. The companies with the highest percentage growth and who meet the other qualifications are then published by Inc. as the Inc. 5000. It is an honor for NetDirector to be included in this list for the 6th consecutive year. With only 4.6 percent of the companies on this year’s list making it on for six consecutive years, it is a very rare accomplishment. NetDirector intends to continue the trend in the coming years with their expansion of integration offerings in the healthcare market.

Florida Companies to WatchSM chooses the 50 companies statewide that are expected to see significant growth over the next several years. NetDirector was among more than 500 nominees for Florida Companies to WatchSM, which is a statewide program managed by economic development group GrowFL, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation. This is the first year NetDirector has been named as one of the Florida Companies to WatchSM.

The Gulf Coast 500, published by Business Observer FL, is awarded to the Top 500 ranked companies in nine counties along the gulf coast, as decided by total revenue. NetDirector earned a spot in the Gulf Coast 500 for the fourth consecutive year thanks to their steadily increasing client base and revenue.

By linking disparate systems with “plug-and-play” style connectivity, NetDirector eases the operations of companies in the mortgage banking and healthcare industries by allowing data to flow seamlessly from one party to another. Maintaining security and data integrity has been another key focus of NetDirector from the beginning. GrowFL, Business Observer FL, and Inc. recognize the importance of these key factors in today’s evolving mortgage and healthcare technology environments.

“To be included on these lists and receive these awards really tells us that we’re doing things right,” said NetDirector CEO Harry Beisswenger. “NetDirector is committed to the success of a variety of organizations in healthcare and mortgage banking, and we know the secret to that lies with seamless integration workflow.  We owe all of our achievements to the NetDirector team, our customers, and our strategic partners/vendors.”

For more information on connecting to NetDirector’s ecosystem contact us at 813-749-7131 or info@netdirector.biz to explore how NetDirector fits in your organization.

New Transactions – Referral Request, Document Request, Reflag Referral Request

We’re excited to be offering three new transactions to our clients that will increase automation of your business processes.

The first is a referral request enhancement. The Referral Request is a request/response transaction for Black Knight only. This enhancement provides firms with the ability to get completed step/form information from a referral. This request can additionally be triggered based on the receipt of sub process referrals that are launched from the completion of a DDF or from a step present in the workload. (additional fee request process).

Benefits of the Referral Request include the retrieval of data filled in by servicers in DDF through an automated process, and getting completed step dates of old referrals and transfer files.

The second new transaction is the Document Request. This is available for Black Knight V2 currently, with Black Knight V3 available in December of 2016. The request contains the RID of the referral package your firm would want to receive.

This transaction alleviates the auto-completion of milestone events from downloading documents, and would still allow firms to select which document types they want to receive, and when they receive them. The cost for the Document Request is one base transaction, and returned documents are charged as normal documents.

The third transaction being added is a Reflag Referral Request. This transaction provides the ability to receive referrals through the existing referral intake process. This transaction is based on the RID for BKFS, or the loan number and case type for Vendorscape. The process consists of the request but also includes an asynchronous response to ensure your firm knows that the referral has been properly reflagged.

Benefits of the Reflag Referral Request include the ability for firms to import transfer files or referrals with changed information or additional information. The cost for Reflag Referrals is one base transaction.

We are currently seeking beta testers for the Doc Request and Reflag Referral transaction types – please contact your integration analyst if interested, or email ndsupport@netdirector.biz.

Improving Data Usage in the Healthcare Environment

HealthcareDataUsage2016At University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), continuous process improvement relies upon effective data usage and integration with the enterprise EHR system. Over the past year, UCHealth has leveraged data science to significantly improve resource utilization in cancer treatment. Now the health system is taking a comparable approach to operating room (OR) scheduling in a project that will roll out through the latter part of next year.

At a cancer treatment infusion facility, UCHealth optimizes scheduling to “level load” patients throughout the day and maximize chair usage. Daily reports, shared during staff huddles, indicate where unexpected patients can be added and when to expect peak loads. Additional performance reports include historic data and highlight areas for further improvement.

This merging of Lean production practices with data analytics has yielded 15 percent lower waiting times for cancer treatment patients — 33 percent lower at peak hours — amid a 16 percent increase in patient volume. What’s more, staff overtime dropped by 28 percent due to optimized scheduling.

The OR project will similarly mine data to maximize surgical resources across five hospitals.

And the forward thrust will lead to new opportunities, according to CIO Steve Hess: “So, inpatient is the natural next place to go after OR. But don’t stop there, think about radiology and imaging, think about lab tests, pharmacy needs, ambulatory clinics … Frankly, the canvas is blank in terms of what you can do with machine learning combined with process improvement philosophies.”

Areas of improvement

Sue Schade, recently identified as one of the “most powerful women in healthcare IT” by Health Data Management and currently interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland, is a strong believer in “visual management” techniques that can help identify systems’ priorities. Her Lean-rooted philosophy takes aim at areas such as reducing cycle times, eliminating preventable incidents, decreasing variation, and increasing coordination and communication between teams.

Data derived from tracking systems helps hospital leadership zero in on the causes of major incidents to prevent reoccurrence and provides performance metrics that can be shared across departments.

Schade quotes from the book The Lean IT Field Guide, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, information made visible in the workplace is priceless.”

Simplifying healthcare data integration

However promising any improvement strategy may be, it would not be possible without properly formatted and integrated data. NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange meets this challenge by moving clinical and financial data among disparate systems within the healthcare ecosystem.

HealthData Exchange uses a “map once, use many” method — as opposed to custom point-to-point interfaces — to enable the sending and receiving of data to/from all of an organization’s providers and vendors. Connected hospitals and physician practices instantly have access to dozens (and potentially hundreds) of providers and vendors through pre-defined integrations.

And because it’s built and optimized for cloud deployment, HealthData Exchange incorporates redundancy and security at every level. The network currently processes more than 10 million data and document transactions per month, while enabling individual users with the means to proactively monitor all connections.

For more information, contact NetDirector or request a free demo.

NetDirector’s Roadmap to 2020 Part 1

We recently held our annual Strategic Planning meeting. This year, instead of doing the same old SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) we tried a new approach called SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results).

Drawing - Dare to DreamThe SWOT method has worked for many years, and is still a valid way to make a business plan and set goals. However, we were looking for a way to get more employees involved and to take a more positive approach to the overall process.

One of NetDirector’s owners and their daughter have been utilizing the SOAR method with other companies with much success and suggested that we try it too.

Drawing - Design Part 1 & 2The strategic planning meeting was open to the entire company, which over half were able to attend. It was a full day event and held off-site so that there were no major work distractions.

The main goal of this meeting was to get as many new ideas as possible with the underlying theme that no idea is bad, which kept the meeting on a positive note throughout the entire day.

Read more