case of his ASC, that data is primarily stored in its electronic medical record (EMR) system.

“Our EMR is our livelihood,” he says. “Our patient records, billing, scheduling—everything comes in and out of the EMR software. We have pri- oritized backing up that software and our databases within it. I think we have a pretty robust data backup strategy.” That strategy involves using a soft-

Prepare for IT Failure

Back up your data and develop a business continuity plan BY ROBERT KURTZ

E ven the most machines eventually fail.

well-designed That

includes the computers, servers and any other information technology (IT) in your ASC. Do you have a plan in place to respond when this day comes? That is the question all ASCs need to ask themselves and be able to answer affirmatively, says Jack Mortell, execu- tive vice president of sales and partner for StratX IT Solutions, an IT consulting firm based in White Plains, New York. “People often take for granted the reliability of most systems and do not see a need to take the necessary steps to help ensure a rapid recovery,” he says. “They do not realize they are unpre- pared until something happens to their technology. But by then, it becomes a lot more difficult to recover.” While technology can fail on its own, there are numerous other threats to the stability and performance of your ASC’s

IT, says Andrew LoPresti, the IT sup- port manager for Physicians Endoscopy, an ASC management and development company based in Jamison, Pennsyl- vania. These include natural and man- made disasters, malware and viruses. “For any of these situations, you

need to be prepared for the event that you are going to lose access to some or all of your entire IT system,” he says. “Inevitably, you will have times when systems go down or other IT problems occur. If you do not take this risk and threat seriously, that is a decision that will bite you in the end.”

Back Up Crucial Data Vital to preparation for the unexpected is the backing up of data central to the ASC’s operations, says Steven San- chez, network administrator and facil- ities manager for Pend Oreille Sur- gery Center in Ponderay, Idaho. In the


ware that provides the ASC with mul- tiple means of backing up its informa- tion, Sanchez says. “We have local backups that are stored on a hard drive here in the ASC as well as backups to the cloud, which provides redundancy. “We also use two different approaches for when we perform backups,” he continues. “Every time someone is in our EMR software, the database changes. We back up these incremental changes made each day every evening. Then, once a week, we perform a comprehensive backup. That is a full backup of our entire database.” Such redundancy is critical to pre- serving data, LoPresti says. “You really need two or three backups and use dif- ferent repositories to back up the same systems and data. For the facilities we support, we use on-premise backups, which are basically giant hard disk repositories. We also have disaster recovery backups, which are located off-site and, in most cases, at least 50–100 miles away from the facili- ties. These are in place in the event of a natural disaster that destroys every- thing in an area. That distance between backup systems should help ensure we have a fail-safe plan.”

Develop Business Continuity Strategy While backing up data is critical, that alone is not enough preparation for an IT disruption. This is where a business continuity plan comes in, Mortell says. “Business continuity is planning for

an IT failure and understanding what will be involved in restoring backed up

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