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December, 2014

Disaster consequences – digital questions

Articles are appearing about the necessity of EHRs in disaster situations like Japan. And of course, they are right when mentioning the fact that having digital records might immensely help chronically diseased and elderly being able to continue their proper care. This is all based on the fact that a major disaster destroys paper records.

However, how about digitally stored records? A disaster like the one in Japan does destroy computers as well, will destroy warehouses, for there still is a physical aspect involved in the storage of data. Even if we make regular back-ups, how do we store them completely disaster free? And even your cloud storage might be at risk. So what do we need to safeguard our data (and not just the medical data)?

And even if data are safe, how do we guarantee that we can access them? Infrastructure damages also include wireless connections (see Neil Versel’s article).

I think this is what we have to start working on once we got the immediate crisis behind us. For whatever the origin of a disaster, man made or caused by nature, if the hardware/infrastructure goes, the data/connectivity will be gone as well.

Let me know what you think about this.

Lodewijk Bos

25 March 2011 | Categories: Blog.
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  1. You’re right. In most well planned processes, expensive redundancy is built in to compensate for worst case scenarios.
    Similarly its important, at least for a start , one must deploy backup servers at geographically diverse locations to protect the data and have satellite connections as a failsafe when data connectivity dies… News transmission occurs over Sat Links…

    But what if the problem is not an earthquake or a tsunami…What if it disrupts satellite links and data retrieval becomes impossible…its something which must be studied and planned for…having personal devices to carry medical data is a possible solution.. A device which syncs itself to servers when new medical data for the owner is available… But in some emergencies such devices may also be destroyed…

    Losing medical data in disasters is a problem for which we must now start dedicating time and energy to start finding practical and realizable solutions…

    • Lodewijk says:

      After I finished the above I realized I should have mentioned satellites as well. With the announced growing solar activity, they might become a problem.

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