In a study of patient safety incidents that occurred during an EHR system outage, most events were found to be associated with lab orders and results, followed by medication ordering and administration. Lab and medication orders can rely heavily on data from patient monitoring devices at the bedside. If health IT systems are down, clinicians will not have access to complete information from medical devices to order labs, medications or deliver an intervention.
Downtime can drive a significant interruption to the one thing on which all hospitals run: data. Information required for safe and effective clinical decisions needs to be timely and reliable. Whether scheduled or unforeseen, server downtime means clinicians must alter their processes for documentation and clinical decision-making. That, in turn, makes data management and team communication inefficient and could increase the risk of delays or errors. Medical device data provides valuable insights into a patient’s condition, possibly providing earlier notification of the need for intervention.
As the value of data grows, it becomes a source of insight to other important systems – including research, alarm management, and clinical decision support. Given the constant demand for clinical data, scheduled downtimes that require clinicians to switch to other processes should be largely avoided. Highly available, clustered server environments can help function as a failsafe for critical, point-of-care data. This is why many hospitals are adding such server configurations to their medical device integration deployments, providing uninterrupted access to data, including waveforms and alerts.
Even in an unplanned downtime, a highly available environment can help mitigate the impact. If a server is breached, or requires unexpected maintenance, it can be isolated and removed from production quickly. Device connections would reconnect to other servers in the cluster, ensuring minimal interruption in the flow of data.