When disaster strikes, keep your data safe, operable, accessible

Clean-up continues in Texas and Florida a month after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma chased people from their homes, and people in Puerto Rico are still in desperate need of first responders to rescue them from the effects of Hurricane Maria. Times of disaster call for hospitals and health care professionals to do what they do best, which is providing care to those in need. Sometimes, though, when disasters strike, health care organizations find themselves at a loss for how to move forward.

Before the hurricanes hit, many hospitals in Texas and Florida closed to new patients and focused on either evacuating or caring for the patients they already had, but many more remained open and weathered the storm. One hospital in Orlando saw four of its physicians travel to Puerto Rico to help care for the millions of people without potable water. They had no idea what lay ahead for them, but they knew it was their calling to get there and offer care.

AS BAD AS IT GETS

A FEMA report from Sept. 26 showed that 58 of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals were out of fuel and power because of Hurricane Maria. Two people on life support in a Puerto Rican hospital died because the hospital’s fuel ran out, according to the San Juan mayor. On Sept. 27, the US Army saved a dozen pediatric patients from the same fate at San Jorge Children’s Hospital in San Juan; the three-day supply of fuel, however, clearly didn’t permanently solve the situation.

Recognizing that so many health care providers in these harsh weather-affected areas found themselves in extraordinary circumstances can open your eyes to how your own organization might quickly find itself in just such a situation. Disasters such as hurricanes may throw your organization’s standard operating procedures for a loop, and as much as you try to prepare for every eventuality, like central Ohio hospitals are doing post-Harvey, Irma and Maria, there may still be a situation that catches you by surprise and limits access to your normal resources.

HOW CAN POLICYSTAT PLAY A ROLE IN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS?

While PolicyStat can’t make sure your hospital has access to emergency generators or diesel fuel, it can be an impactful tool in a disaster. Our platform is cloud-based, giving it the portability to allow you access from anywhere with an internet connection. So if you find yourself and your staff having to vacate your premises and treat patients from emergency centers, you can still pull up PolicyStat on your tablet or other mobile device. This flexibility can be critical in a disaster scenario.

Further, so many of the hospitals and health care centers in rough shape due to the hurricanes lost power after their generators ran out of fuel. The loss of power means loss of many things, but you won’t lose your data in PolicyStat because you’re forcibly unplugged. Our back-up system is both redundant and secure. We use the same 256-bit SSL technology used by most banks and other financial institutions. PolicyStat has redundant secure servers in multiple locations and backs up your information every hour. None of your data is shared or put into an open document repository. You own the data; we keep it secure.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

How have the recent hurricanes and other emergency situations felt by other health care organizations affected your organization? Are you putting new practices or policies in place? If so, we’d love to hear how it goes. Tell us your story on our Facebook page.

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