Any time there is a disruption to the standard workflow of your business, you can incur severe financial losses. But one of the most expensive interruptions by far is IT or system downtime, which happens when a technological glitch temporarily shuts down production. In the case of healthcare companies, this occurs when servers shut down and render your electronic health records unavailable.
The consequences of healthcare downtime are far-reaching, with appointment scheduling, access to patient records, and payment processing all in flux. Some estimates suggest that healthcare downtime costs range from $427 per minute for small businesses to as much as $9000 for larger companies. But what causes this downtime, and how can you minimize it? Let’s find out together.
What Causes Healthcare Downtime?
There are a variety of circumstances that can cause healthcare downtime. These include but are not limited to:
- Human error
- Internet outage
- Malfunctioning hardware
- Cybersecurity threats
- Server instability
- Software updates
The healthcare industry, in particular, is considered a valuable target by cyber criminals because they are aware of the importance of the information stored within a healthcare provider’s servers. Often hospitals and doctors’ offices will have their systems locked down until a ransom is paid. This amount can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars or even more.
Within 24 months ending in December 2020, 592 breaches of unsecured personal health information (PHI) affected 500 or more individuals. Around 306 of these breaches occurred in 2020, with the number only continuing to grow. Downtime is often a byproduct of data breaches of this scale since reaction and recovery must commence, and so healthcare organizations must protect against cybercrime. Of the areas mentioned above, it is the only one that healthcare organizations can control to some extent.
What Are Some Effects of Healthcare Downtime?
Downtime in the healthcare world can potentially result in patients missing their appointments, the loss of sensitive records and patient information, and healthcare providers getting slapped with regulatory fines in the thousands or even millions of dollars for noncompliance. While lost revenue is a huge concern, there is also the issue of life-or-death situations for patients relying on results and treatments powered by modern technology. Additionally, healthcare downtime can cost your organization its reputation, productivity, and future opportunities.
What is EHR Downtime?
The worst possible kind of downtime in healthcare is known as electronic health record (EHR) downtime. This is any period in which an EHR can only be partially accessed or is unavailable. Not only is this disruptive to workflow, but it also poses a massive threat to patient reporting. Most facilities are unfortunately not prepared for such a situation. But when EHRs are unavailable for a couple of hours or a day, or radiology applications cannot transmit X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds, the impact goes far beyond staff performing their jobs.
How Can Lost Revenue From Healthcare Downtime Be Calculated?
It is important to remember that downtime in healthcare impacts many areas, including patient safety, patient treatment, customer service, hospital reputation, and overall trust by the affected healthcare facility’s patients, families, and communities. Standard costing modules simply cannot quantify the loss involved in this situation due to the human toll.
According to a study by Health Informatics, there was a total of 701 days of downtime caused by 43 events that were experienced by 166 U.S. hospitals from 2012 to 2018. Around 50% were, at least in part, related to cyberattacks. A report by the Ponemon Insititute found that healthcare facilities faced average costs of $740,357 per downtime incident in 2016.
At the end of the day, it does not matter whether the reason for the disruption in services is related to performance or security. The pain is felt regardless. With the average cost of healthcare downtime clocking in at about $7900 per minute – not including any fines from HIPAA noncompliance – it is critical that your organization minimizes downtime and is prepared if it is unavoidable.
At Managed Services Group, we help your healthcare organization avoid downtime by protecting you against cyber attacks to keep patients’ sensitive data secure. Keep cyber threats away and prevent all the downtime that comes along with it. If you are a Florida healthcare company, book a FREE network analysis with us and put yourself at ease knowing your healthcare data is safe and secure.