Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried going online when the power was out. I know I’m guilty of this one. As a society, we are incredibly reliant on electricity and the Internet to complete even the most mundane tasks. Luckily, the majority of outages are temporary and data is easily accessible soon after. However, what happens when disaster really strikes? A hurricane, earthquake, flooding, or fire can cause severe damage and permanently destroy data. How can health systems small and large keep data secured and readily available?

A traditional PACS system uses hardware and software onsite to lock imaging data inside of the system. Although the onsite location is convenient, the full responsibility of maintaining and operating the PACS belongs to the facility where it is located. The facility also remains responsible for implementing HIPAA compliant security and disaster recovery features. Because the facility has total ownership and control of the system, IT staff must also be hired to monitor, update, and maintain the system in case of disaster. In smaller facilities, providers and staff may have to take on IT related duties as well. In addition, hours of downtime engaged in solving IT dilemmas onsite can cost millions–literally! A recent survey found that the average healthcare institution spent $627,418 per IT downtime incident. (Tip Check-out our Total Cost of Ownership Whitepaper for more cost saving tips).

A Cloud PACS solution uses a vendor offsite to digitally store images that are automatically streamed into the Cloud. The vendor takes ownership of managing the security settings through an encryption technology and provides an automated storage and disaster recovery program. Users with the appropriate login credentials can access this data anytime and anywhere, even on mobile devices and tablets. Be sure to carefully evaluate a Cloud vendor’s disaster recovery matrix that outlines what happens at each stage of the outage.

A few key features to discuss when evaluating a Cloud vendor’s storage recovery systems include:

  • Data pruning: Is the system updated by automatically purging data that has exceeded its legal retention period based on configurable retention rules?
  • Scalability: Does the storage solution scale to accommodate growing image volumes?
  • Storing of Non-DICOM: Can you store and retrieve dozens of files formats such as .JPEG, .TIFF, .DOC, etc?
  • Audit trails: Are there detailed audit trails showing activity and interactions made with the image data?

In addition to innovative and scalable storage solutions, the Cloud also features viewing on tablets and mobile phones allowing for telehealth and teleradiology capabilities. DICOM Grid improves the telehealth and teleradiology workflow by providing 24/7 access to imaging data and rapid distribution of studies. With the click of a button, you can send and receive patients’ medical images from anywhere in the world. Through a mobile device you can share studies with other physicians, facilities, or DICOM destinations in minutes, or utilize instant HIPAA compliant messaging to collaborate with colleagues on patient cases.

Is your facility prepared for disaster? Do you think the Cloud offers an innovative solution to traditional disaster recovery programs?

Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's Director of Marketing, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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