Electronic Medical Records Backup Doesn't Have to be Paper

Lora Bentley

Wednesday at CTO Edge, Wayne Rash wrote about a recent experience he had trying to get a prescription from his doctor's office. He couldn't get anyone on the phone, and when he drove there, he found there had been a fire in the building, so the power was out.


Since the office had moved to electronic records, he thought he was out of luck. No power, no network. No network, no records. No records... Well, you get the picture. But he asked anyway, and he was wrong. Rash writes:

The receptionist left the room, returning with a thick file, dropping it to her desk with a thump. "We keep a paper backup," she said, seeing the question in my eyes. Then she took out a piece of notepaper emblazoned with the name of a medical device manufacturer, and wrote down what I wanted. "I'll take care of it," she said.

Digital records are great. They save space, they save time, and eventually, according to observers, they will save lives. But are they pointless if you have to always keep a paper backup anyway, just in case the power goes out?


It's an interesting question, but I don't think paper is the only answer to "What happens when the power goes out?" The solution lies in business continuity or disaster recovery planning. As a commenter to Rash's post noted, a proper disaster recovery plan will include housing digital backups in a separate location. That way the chances of both being unavailable at the same time are smaller. In his comment, Paul Robertson writes:


People have to understand that off-site backups are a necessity, and they need good continuity of operations plans that provide for their primary place of business to be out of play -- it's especially important for small businesses that don't have multiple offices.


Like my boss mentioned yesterday, perhaps this is where cloud computing and laptops or other wireless devices come in. Lack of electricity wouldn't pose a problem with a wireless device, and if your records are stored in the cloud, with appropriate privacy and security processes spelled out in the agreement with your hosting service, they would be safe and easily accessible no matter what had happened at the main office.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 5, 2009 4:38 PM Glenn Laffel MD, PhD Glenn Laffel MD, PhD  says:


Disaster recovery is much more straightforward with cloud-based EHRs, like Practice Fusion. With these systems, medical records are instantly retrievable from anywhere you can log on to the Internet. So if a flood destroys both the paper record and your on-site computer hardware, your patient records are still safe.

Practice Fusion recently formed a strategic alliance with salesforce.com enabling our 21,000 providers (in all 50 states) to store patient medical records in the salesforce cloud, which is a $100 million HIPAA-compliant, extremely safe venue.

What is more, our EHR is offered completely free to providers. There is no cost for licensing, updates, training, help-desk support etc. So physicians can solve their disaster recovery issues, and access a $100 safe data storage infrastructure for free.


Glenn Laffel MD, PhD

Sr. VP Clinical Affairs

Practice Fusion


Free, Web-based EHR

Nov 9, 2009 7:33 PM Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson  says:

Federal funding may be encouraging a move toward EHR, but there's more to it than just installing systems. How can healthcare data pooling lead to a better system? More at http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=1499

Nov 13, 2009 9:35 AM Scott Chan Scott Chan  says: in response to Glenn Laffel MD, PhD

Hi Doc,

I am currently looking at an EMR system for our 150 beds facility. The system will cost us roughly $6-7M for a 5 year implementation and that does not include support. I visited practice fusion website and I must say Im a little skeptic. Am I missing something here? If everything is free, how do you make money?

Nov 13, 2009 8:57 PM Scott Chan Scott Chan  says:

If the entire building has no electricity, how will a wireless laptop work? Wouldn't you need a wireless card from say..at&t?

Mar 11, 2010 1:23 PM ehr software ehr software  says:

Technology in health care I think will definitely lead to better care.Electronic medical records may create a better, cleaner record,records are completely paper-free,reduce the errors and the redundant of data entry.EMR can contribute betterment and advancement of health care.

Apr 10, 2010 8:04 AM EMR Software EMR Software  says:

Electronic Medical Records offers a great opportunity to completely metamorphose the health care system and improve patient's safety by better leveraging information technology. EMR Software can help in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the present health care system.


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