Children’s of Alabama is in the business of changing kids’ lives. From nurses who know their patients’ favorite superheroes to care teams that turn medical treatments into games, there is a collaborative, compassionate spirit at Children’s of Alabama.
One of the key components of collaboration is the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). When healthcare providers have round-the-clock access to complete and accurate information in an EMR, patients receive the best care. EMRs facilitate rapid diagnosis and treatment, but they’re only worth their salt if they’re accessible. Children’s of Alabama uses Greenway Health’s EMR called Intergy.
Another key component of collaboration is research conducted by the hospital’s Pediatric Simulation Center. Research data helps medical professionals improve their assessment and treatment in several areas such as pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation and diabetic ketoacidosis.
Children’s of Alabama maintains its collaborative environment by ensuring EMRs and research data are always accessible, as well as other critical systems such as radiology, lab and telephony. Bob Sarnecki, CIO at Children’s of Alabama, said the hospital is in perpetual preparedness mode so it can rebound quickly following a natural or manmade disaster. Ransomware is a particular concern because cybercriminals continue to target the healthcare industry. According to security firm Cylance, healthcare organizations were the fourth most common target for ransomware attacks in 2019, making up 7% of total data breaches after technology (28%), consumer goods (15%) and manufacturing (11%).
“Like all hospitals, one of our top priorities is making sure we can treat patients following a disaster,” Sarnecki said. “If EMRs aren’t assessible, our medical professionals don’t know the full history of each patient, including chronic conditions, long-term medications and allergies. Having a system outage would be like flying blind. Yes, you can assess in the moment, but you need access to EMRs to deliver perfect care, not just adequate care. That’s why our business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) strategy must deliver the best possible outcome.”
The hospital’s goal was to recover critical systems, including standalone EMRs, in 15 minutes or less, but Sarnecki said legacy backup (Avamar and Dell EMC Data Domain) wasn’t getting the job done. It was slow to recover standalone EMRs, taking up to 13 hours in some cases.
“We have to be able to deliver care in the moment, not 13 hours later,” Sarnecki said. “To do that successfully, we have to be able recover fast — no matter the medium. We currently recover standalone EMRs from disk, but we may move to the cloud in the future. We needed a backup solution that would make that journey seamless for us.”
Children’s of Alabama replaced legacy backup with Veeam® Availability Suite™ and ExaGrid. Veeam and ExaGrid simplify, improve and strengthen the hospital’s DR and BC strategy and reduce recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) for standalone EMRs by 97% to 15 minutes. Veeam also delivers Cloud Data Management™ if the hospital moves to a hybrid cloud in the future.
“Veeam and ExaGrid have become our de facto BC and DR strategy, making our recoveries bullet-proof,” Sarnecki said. “They ensure our most critical systems including standalone EMRs are always accessible, giving our medical professionals a full understanding of each child so they can provide the very best care.”
Veeam backs up nearly 600 TBs across 1,500 VMware vSphere virtual machines to ExaGrid from Pure Storage and Nexsan storage snapshots. Backup is super-fast, and recovery is super-short, reducing RPOs and RTOs by 97% to 15 minutes.
“Veeam also makes us more proficient at BC and DR testing,” Sarnecki said. “Testing used to take days, but now it takes minutes. The majority of hospitals have small IT staffs, so they don’t have a lot of extra time to devote to BC and DR testing. Veeam is a great timesaver.”
Children’s of Alabama is thinking about taking testing to the next level with another Veeam solution: Veeam Availability Orchestrator. It offers a reliable, scalable and easy-to-use orchestration and automation engine that completely eliminates manual testing and recovery processes. It will enable the hospital to build DR workflows that automate failover and recovery processes, delivering even more resilient IT operations.
“One of the reasons we chose Veeam is because it’s way ahead of its competitors — from automated BC and DR testing to Cloud Data Management,” Sarnecki said. “If our future includes a hybrid cloud, Veeam will make those recoveries bullet-proof too.”
Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s provides care for kids in Alabama, in nearly all 50 states and from many countries, representing approximately 675,000 outpatient visits and 15,000 inpatient admissions each year. Located in Birmingham, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the country and employs more than 5,200 people.
Cybercrime is plaguing the healthcare industry, so protecting patients’ EMRs from loss or corruption is more critical now than ever before. When Children’s of Alabama discovered that recovering standalone EMRs was becoming woefully slow (taking up to 13 hours in one case), the hospital decided to overhaul its BC and DR strategy. The goal was to reduce RPOs and RTOs to 15 minutes.