Austria plays a pioneering role in Europe in the digitization of the healthcare system. Almost all citizens of the country have been using the e-card system of the Austrian social security system for many years for the electronic transmission of patient data. From digital health insurance vouchers to e-medication, a wide range of different services are now available for the online system.
One of the pioneers of digital healthcare in Austria is A1 Telekom Austria. The company is not only the country’s largest communications provider in the mobile and fixed network sector, but also the leading infrastructure provider for e-health applications. Since 1999, A1 has been offering a network service for healthcare – the medical data network (DaMe) — which enables the secure exchange of findings between healthcare facilities such as registered doctors, hospitals, radiologists, laboratories and pharmacies. Around 25 million diagnostic findings messages are transmitted each year via the high-security network on MPLS basis. In total, more than 8,000 healthcare facilities throughout Austria now use the DaMe service for their daily work with patients.
“The digitization of processes in the healthcare sector has accelerated enormously in recent years,” says Peter Uher, Head of Public Sector & Healthcare, at A1. “We now offer our customers a whole range of additional services beyond the basic infrastructure. One topic that is becoming increasingly important is reliable data backup”
In hospitals and medical practices, but also in laboratories and pharmacies, a large amount of digital information is stored today. Especially when it comes to personal health data, these are subject to strict legal protection requirements. However, not all institutions are able to take care of the reliable backup of this data themselves. “Backup is often perceived as a tiresome topic, especially by smaller medical practices, and is neglected in everyday life. However, if a local server fails or is destroyed by a fire or flood, sensitive patient data can be irretrievably lost,” says Lisa Müller, product manager for DaMe and A1’s e-card services.
A1 therefore launched its own online backup service for its customer. The aim was to enable healthcare institutions to automatically back up patient information and other local data to the A1 data center.
The new DaMe Online Backup service was very well received by customers from the start, but the technical solution in the background soon reached its limits. “The backup software we used was quite complex to operate and caused a lot of effort for installation and administration,” says Müller. “We were therefore looking for a modern and cost-efficient solution to be able to offer our customers in the healthcare sector a reliable data backup service”.
After intensive market research, A1 selected Veeam® Backup & Replication™ as technical platform for its online backup service. “The Veeam solution has a wide range of functions to reliably and automatically backup our customers’ various IT workloads,” explains Müller.
The backup of customer data is fully automated according to a schedule specified by the customer. All data to be backed up is encrypted on site at the customer’s premises and then securely transferred to the data center via Veeam Cloud Connect. There too, the data is stored exclusively in encrypted form. The data is only decrypted when a recovery is necessary. The key required for this is only known to the respective customer.
Healthcare customers benefit from the very short recovery times of the Veeam solution. If, for example, a folder on a file server has been accidentally deleted, the user just needs to call A1 support. The technical staff can then provide the customer with the files they are looking for from the central backup within a very short time.
The new service helps healthcare institutions to comply with legal requirements for the protection of patient data. By backing up to an external location - A1’s highly available data center — they eliminate the risk of accidental data loss. The encrypted patient data is also well protected against unauthorized access there.
The A1 team also saves a lot of time through the user-friendly management of the environment with the Veeam Service Provider Console. The technical specialists always have an overview of all running processes and can manage policies and backup agents on customer systems remotely and very efficiently. Usage reports, which are needed for billing, are generated automatically. Veeam also makes it easy to provide self-services, such as the recovery of certain content by the customers themselves.
“With Veeam we have taken our online backup service to a new level,” sums up Martin Resel, Chief Customer Officer Enterprise at A1. “We receive a lot of positive feedback from satisfied customers. Our service built on Veeam helps them to make their everyday work easier and more efficient and to really protect sensitive patient data comprehensively”
A1 Telekom Austria AG is Austria’s leading communications provider with more than 5.1 million mobile customers and more than 1.9 million fixed net connections. The company’s customers benefit from a comprehensive one-stop shop offering comprising voice telephony, Internet access, digital cable television, data and IT solutions, wholesale services and mobile business and payment solutions. A1 is part of the A1 Telekom Austria Group which currently employs around 18,000 people.
As an infrastructure provider, A1 also supplies professional communication and IT solutions for around 10,000 health care facilities in Austria. In order to support registered doctors, hospitals, radiologists, laboratories and pharmacies in securing their sensitive data, A1 launched an online backup service. For the implementation of this service, the company needed a technology partner that could meet the highest requirements for data security and availability