Rochelle Community Hospital is a notfor- profit hospital serving more than 20,000 patients each year in northern Illinois. Founded in the city of Rochelle, the hospital has become a cornerstone of the community. It’s the fourth largest employer and the only criticalcare hospital for 30 miles. Rochelle Community Hospital has been named Illinois’ #1 critical-access hospital and a Most Wired hospital since 2014.
After a powerful and violent tornado ripped through Rochelle and missed the hospital by only two miles, the IT team decided to modernize the DR plan. Hyper-available data during an emergency was the goal, specifically data in patients’ electronic health records because access to that data can mean the difference between life and death. The challenge was finding a reliable, economical solution.
Rochelle Community Hospital (RCH) has been a cornerstone of the Rochelle community for more than a century. It was founded in 1913 as a cooperative community project and continues that way today. For an annual association membership of $25 or more, members of the community can become owners of the hospital.
RCH is a not subsidized by tax dollars or funded by a parent company with deep pockets. It’s a small, independent hospital operating on a modest budget. When RCH sought to modernize its disaster recovery (DR) plan following a tornado, finding a reliable, cost-effective solution became a challenge.
Like most hospitals, RCH follows the 3-2-1 backup rule for DR: 3 copies of data, 2 different media, 1 copy offsite. After the tornado tore through Rochelle and missed the hospital by only two miles, 1 copy offsite took on new meaning.
“Our offsite copy was in a data center a short distance from the hospital,” said Scott Stewart, CIO at RCH. “If the tornado had wiped out the hospital, it would have wiped out the data center too. While we would have been able to provide some medical services, most of the hospital’s capabilities would cease to exist. The nearest hospital is 30 miles, so our community would be in an awful situation.”
That’s when RCH decided to modernize its DR plan.
“We knew the most secure place for an offsite copy was in the cloud, but we had to make sure our data would be hyper-available,” he said.
Hyper-available data is vital for hospitals, especially in electronic health records (EHRs).
“If our EHR system isn’t hyper-available, it could be a matter of life or death, particularly during a disaster like a tornado,” Stewart said. “Our health care professionals need instant access to critical information before treating anyone, including medical history, drug allergies and lab results, otherwise treatment could do more harm than good.”
RCH’s EHR system was developed by MEDITECH, which recommended a design to keep data secure during an emergency.
“The design MEDITECH proposed was too expensive for our hospital and didn’t meet our hyper-availability needs,” Stewart said. “It’s not only tornados we’re concerned about. Like most health care organizations, we worry about cyber attacks too. We have to be confident our data is always accessible.”
RCH modernized its DR strategy with Veeam Backup & Replication. RCH also chose ComportSecure for Backup as a Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). EHR data is now hyper-available and the hospital saves $250,000 annually.
“Veeam and ComportSecure provide the power of protection,” Stewart said. “We’re confident our MEDITECH EHR data will be protected and accessible in a disaster like a tornado or cyber attack.”
Veeam protects the MEDITECH operating system volumes and a legacy method protects the MEDITECH data volumes.
The health care industry was the victim of 88 percent of all malware and ransomware attacks among U.S. industries in 2016, according to a report from Solutionary, a security company. Approximately 89 percent of those health care organizations experienced a data breach in their EHRs.
“This is where we can make a difference,” said Hannah Coney, Business Development Manager at Comport. “We’ve been helping health care organizations and commercial enterprises manage and secure their critical data since 1982. As a Veeam Gold Partner, we’ve had years of experience architecting and installing Veeam solutions. Together, Veeam and ComportSecure—our cloud service—make data hyper-available.”
Hyper-available data is the new normal. Data must automatically anticipate need, meet demand and move securely across cloud infrastructures. This strategy is called intelligent data management, and Veeam and ComportSecure help the hospital master it by giving new meaning to the 3-2-1 backup rule.
Veeam makes three copies of the hospital’s data on Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) ProLiant Servers and stores copies on site on two different media, one being HPE 3PAR StoreServ. Veeam sends the third copy off site to ComportSecure, enabling Comport technicians to provide backup as a service (BaaS) and DR as a service (DRaaS) if necessary.
“The survival of our hospital depends on our ability to recover quickly during a disaster,” Stewart said. “Veeam and ComportSecure help us rebound almost instantly, and for $250,000 less than other solutions. That’s a substantial savings for us. Our IT budget is under $1 million.”
Stewart said RCH applies the savings to improvements that enhance patient care, such as updating patient rooms and purchasing medical equipment, including the first MRI machine, which the hospital had been leasing.
“We wouldn’t have been able to purchase the machine without the savings provided by Veeam and ComportSecure.” Stewart said.