How to Best Prepare for the Worst: GNAX Health Provides Disaster Planning Tips

New York City Hospitals were somewhat better prepared for disaster when Hurricane Sandy hit than New Orleans hospitals were when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, according to the authors of “Emergency Preparedness and Public: Health: The Lessons of Hurricane Sandy,” a viewpoint article that ran in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But they weren’t completely ready for what hit them.

The authors note that New York City hospitals developed and implemented some plans to better manage patient evacuations as a result of lessons learned from the experiences of New Orleans’ medical centers in 2005. However, they also point out that there was still room for improvement.

The upshot? Healthcare industry leaders should start gearing up for the next potential disaster. Indeed, the likelihood of another tumultuous event hitting is high, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting an active season for 2013 – predicting 13 to 20 storms and 7 to 11 hurricanes. 

CIOs might be especially interested in fine-tuning their data recovery plans in anticipation of the next natural disaster. Effective programs allow for the continuation of operations through and after a disruptive event, and can include data backup, offsite storage, and offsite system deployments – all of which are part of HIPAA disaster recovery planning requirements.

As such, many hospitals now are using colocation as a vital solution for data recovery during a disaster, and as means to meeting HIPAA requirements. These arrangements enable hospitals to tap into an off-site data center where equipment, space and bandwidth is leased on an as-needed basis. Instead of trying to forecast how much space they might need, providers simply pay for what they use.

To improve colocation plans, however, leaders need to go beyond simply examining hardware reliability and facility security – and focus on geographical factors as well.

"Colocation is a great solution for healthcare organizations that are looking to cost-effectively back-up data. However, it’s not enough to just point blank go with a colocation strategy," says Jeff Hinkle, chief executive officer for GNAX Health. "Instead, healthcare organizations need to think through all the various scenarios and strategically look for the best location and the best vendor for their situation.”

A new whitepaper from GNAX Health, HEALTHCARE IT DISASTER RECOVERY, 9 Steps To Help You Target A Reliable DR Datacenter, provides an in-depth look at how disaster recovery efforts can be improved by choosing the right location for a disaster recovery site and by choosing the right colocation vendor. For example, the whitepaper recommends that healthcare leaders ensure that the colocation center sits outside of the hospital’s disaster zone. In addition, the paper recommends that CIOs consider issues such as accessibility, telecom infrastructure and access to other health information technology vendors.

To download the whitepaper, go to: