In today’s healthcare landscape, IT plays a central role in nearly every aspect of operations – from delivering patient care and managing medical records to scheduling and billing.

For Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), this increasing reliance on health information technology (HIT) can streamline the patient experience and enhance operational efficiency. But great dependence also comes with a great vulnerability – in the form of potential IT outages.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the impact of an IT outage for FQHCs, and offer some tips on how your organization can build a business continuity plan to protect itself from the devastating repercussions of a network failure.

The Impact of an IT Outage for FQHCs

Like any healthcare organization, FQHCs depend on a stable network connection to serve patients on a daily basis. This means that during an IT outage, patient care is immediately interrupted and almost all other operations grind to a halt.

Not only is an IT outage a massive inconvenience for FQHCs. But it can have a far-reaching impact across your entire organization. This includes:

Financial losses

When critical infrastructure goes offline, an FQHC will suffer immediate financial losses from a drop in revenue. According to recent studies, the cost of IT downtime in healthcare can range from $5,300 to $9,000 per minute.

Loss of productivity

An IT outage at an FQHC disrupts technology-dependent workflows, resulting in a massive drop in staff productivity. Without access to vital resources and data, staff may need to resort to paper-and-pencil documentation. These manual workarounds are not only time-consuming and error prone – but they also lead to the duplication of work when paper documents need to be re-entered into an EHR system after the network is restored.

Patient safety

During an outage, access to critical patient information may be compromised. For staff and providers at an FQHC, this could potentially lead to errors in patient care, diagnosis, and treatment.

Regulatory compliance

As a Federally funded organization, FQHC are required to comply with stringent regulations regarding data security and patient privacy. In the event of an IT outage, security breaches and data loss could result in regulatory penalties – which could jeopardize an organization’s FQHC status.

Reputation damage

The reputation of your FQHC is largely built on trust and patient confidence. An outage that affects patient care erodes that trust, which may have long-term consequences in the form of patient attrition.

Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

In light of the major implications of an IT outage, nearly all FQHCs will have some type of disaster recovery plan in place.

Disaster recovery helps ensure all of your data is backed up, either on the cloud or on a physical disk or tape. This backup allows you to restore your HIT systems and data after an outage. However, the restoration process can be time consuming and highly manual, resulting in extended downtime.

For example, if a server goes down, getting the replacement server up and running could take 5 to 7 days. The equipment will need to be shipped. Then, the server will need to be built and your backup data needs to be installed. All the while, this extended downtime is costing your FQHC time and money.

That’s why we recommend FQHCs adopt a business continuity plan. Unlike the manual disaster recovery process, business continuity takes a proactive approach by creating a mirror environment that replicates the production IT infrastructure. With a live backup server, your FQHC can seamlessly switch to the virtual environment during an outage, ensuring minimal disruption to patient care.

This continuous backup means downtime can be reduced to as little as 30 minutes to an hour. And users can even restore their in-progress work – ensuring no data is lost in the process. Best of all, by partnering with a managed service provider like MyConnectSolutions, FQHCs can reduce network downtime with minimal in-house effort, while gaining access to features like:

Automated disaster recovery

Disaster recovery and business continuity procedures are automated, ensuring quick failover to the virtual environment during an outage. This reduces the need for manual intervention and expedites recovery.

Continuous backups

MyConnectSolutions performs frequent, automated data backups at 15-minute intervals to ensure the most up-to-date patient information is available for recovery.

Network redundancy

Using technologies like SD-WAN, we ensure that your FQHC maintains connectivity even if the primary network fails.

Expert support

Our team has deep experience managing healthcare IT for FQHCs, enabling us to respond swiftly and effectively during emergencies.

Is Your FQHC Prepared for an IT Outage?

For FQHCs, the cost of an IT outage is more than just financial. It can jeopardize patient safety, compromise data security, and pose regulatory compliance risks. By partnering with MyConnectSolutions for business continuity, you can ensure uninterrupted patient care and protect your reputation. To learn more about our business continuity solutions for FQHCs, schedule a free consultation with our team today.