4 Steps in Data Backup Planning for Healthcare Providers
In the modern landscape of businesses, data is undoubtedly an important aspect. Gone are the days of the “ledger” approach to handling data. Companies today have been harnessing it not just for revenue purposes but also to improve products and services, streamline internal processes, and insightfully plan out what’s ahead.
Modern businesses view data like this, but as for healthcare providers, it’s more high level. They handle critical information from patients covering personal, medical, and even legal data—which is why these are fearfully managed and stored as there are crucial considerations on the line: people’s lives.
Digitizing patient data has moved massive improvements to the quality of healthcare services. For one, research shows that around 85% of office-based physicians are prime electronic medical record systems users. However, without proper data recovery and backup planning, these patient data are a low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals—which proves the 84% increase in healthcare data breaches in 2021.
Worth noting as well that cyberattacks are just one of the threats that corporate data backup and recovery can help mitigate, such as disasters, outages, and system downtimes. But if there’s one thing in common about these threats, they can occur at any given time, be a healthcare provider prepared for them or not.
With the nature of these threats, setting up a holistic backup and recovery strategy is a must. So, how do you start your data recovery and backup planning fast and efficiently for healthcare? Here are measures that you should take:
Step 1: Identify which data and assets to prioritize
When it comes to healthcare data and other assets you are handling, sad to say that you can’t save all of them, you should remember that not all healthcare data share the same importance, so deciding which ones to back up first is necessary. Start by identifying mission-critical data, as these are more crucial than the other information in your healthcare processes. These data types are mainly harnessed for servicing patients and strategizing the business aspect of a provider.
One way to tell that it’s mission-critical data is if it will altogether severely cripple your patient services, internal and external processes, and ROI. Doing a business impact analysis on your data sets can greatly help you do this more efficiently. A trusted tech partner can help you with this process.
Once identified, these mission-critical data should be prioritized for backup and should also be the first data sets to restore right after a disaster, attack, or data corruption.
Step 2: Build the whole strategy
The backup planning should always have a recovery aspect to complete the whole strategy. The corporate data backup and recovery, specifically for healthcare providers, determine which medical data to back up first, how often they should be backed up, and how fast they can be recovered once the real thing happens.
In a more detailed view, these factors are covered by two objectives:
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the timeframe needed to recover healthcare data afterward. Make it a goal that the recovery process is fast and efficient while being attainable. Remember that even if you have your patient data backed up, but it takes ages to restore, it’s all useless.
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the data threshold that your company can afford not to prioritize or lose. This helps you identify mission-critical data and the frequency of data backups.
Step 3: Comply with regulations
On top of the various data security regulations, see to it that your strategy and procedures in handling and processing patient data comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It’s a regulation specially crafted for the healthcare industry mandating high-level patient data management to ensure privacy. Failing to abide by this regulation can lead to fines and other legal actions.
By learning the intricacies of HIPAA, you will learn the specific patient privacy measures and technologies you should have for your strategy and the tools you’re going to acquire. Data encryption and data redundancy are considered to be the minimum requirements that should be implemented when handling patient data.
Step 4: Choose a disaster recovery solution
It is very tempting to hastily acquire a disaster recovery solution or a platform to back up your patient data. However, without going through the first three steps, you will most likely create a data backup and recovery strategy that revolves around a solution—a sure way to technical and procedural disasters.
Remember that your strategy should dictate what solutions or tools to acquire and not the other way around! When you have already identified your data types, established the whole strategy, and embedded compliance to your data recovery plan, that’s the time that you can choose a recovery solution or platform. There are two types that you can avail of in the market:
- Physical data centers - these are the secondary or “backup” data storage spaces located away from your on-premise storage. This gives you the tangibility of a backup as you can physically know where your data was stored. However, these can be a constraint since these aren’t readily scalable and may limit the workloads you can back up.
- Virtual servers – these are considered the best option for data backup and recovery as these can be accessed remotely. These are primarily hosted in a cloud and are monitored by an outsourced tech team. Unlike data centers, these are very scalable, adaptive to the loads of data that will be stored, and has layers of security features.
Going for a hybrid setup is one of the popular approaches to having the “best of both worlds.” This includes the tangibility of data centers and the scalability, security, and adaptability of virtual servers). To ensure what suits healthcare providers, seek a tech expert’s advice.
Data recovery and backup planning for healthcare should be made insightfully and with the end-users in mind. By missing one of these steps, you might give your company the false assurance of prompt business continuity and disaster recovery once the real thing hits you.
However, if you’ve successfully observed these four steps for your strategy, you’re all set to acquire the necessary manpower and technologies and move forward with the backup and recovery strategy! If you’re aiming to kickstart asap, know that there is a tech partner out there ready to help you. Choose us!