Should You Test Your EHR Data Backup and Restore Process?

  • By BlueEHR Admin
  • May 16 , 2016
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It’s common knowledge that the EHR Data Backup for your medical practice is critical for protecting against devastating losses of patient data in the event of a natural disaster, system glitch, or hardware failure. But practices should go further than simply backing their data up; testing these backup and restoration processes is just as important for ensuring data safety as the initial backup itself.

 

Why Backups are Important

For practices that utilize EHRs, having backups is critical for a number of reasons. While the first scenario that many imagine is a catastrophic loss of data resulting from a server malfunction or local event, this is not the only reason to have a data backup.

Experts recommend backups to protect against security breaches or viruses, to provide continuity of care across multiple providers or in the event of an outage, and the protection of valuable assets for research and analytics.

Medical practices should establish scheduled, automatic backups as well as perform manual backups after making any system changes.

 

Your Backup is Only as Good as its Restore

When preparing an EHR data backup procedure, it’s important to remember that the value of your backup is congruous to the quality of the restore. A backup is no good if the restore is incompatible with current hardware or software, which is just one example of what can go wrong.

Particularly for practices using an EHR vendor, it’s essential to confirm compatibility of the restore with current systems. This restore must also be promptly accessible, and establishing synchronization with an EHR vendor is important for this timeliness. Checking post-restore integrity as a routine part of testing can ensure that once your restore is complete, your data will be accessible and use-able.

 

How Will You Know if Your Backup is Good?

One of the most effective ways to know if your backup is good is to run a test. The test should exercise the system using common work processes that access multiple types of data.  The worst case is when a practice believes they have been successfully backing up their data, only to find out that the backups are incomplete.

Other restore fail scenarios include practices that have discovered that they have only been backing up their software, not their data. This kind of loss can be devastating for patients and providers alike, and regularly running tests can protect against these situations.

 

Scheduling Your Backups

Aside from testing the functionality of backups,strategically determining the times that these systems will run will prevent interference with staff or clinic activities. Frequency also depends on how much EHR data the practice can afford to lose. If an EHR data backup runs weekly, this means that a worst-case scenario could result in the loss of six days’ worth of data.

Depending on practice volume, agenda, and other factors, setting goals and quantifiable standards for backups ensures alignment with best practices.

 

Conclusion

Protection against disaster-borne data loss, along with the convenience of external management,has led many practices to choose third parties or their EHR vendor to administrate backups.  Don’t rely on external entities to validate your backups.  Internally test and verify your systems restore process too.

At ZH Healthcare, our blueEHR services offer complete peace of mind with multiple layers of protection, including automated backups and “snapshot” components which can be used to restore your systems quickly. In addition, we offer on-demand download access from the cloud, and in-house data storage. Our robust set of protections will prepare your practice for any scenario, so contact us online or at 1-703-340-8065 to learn more.