One of Ontario’s largest hospital organizations is backing up patient records at Teranet Enterprise Inc.‘s data centre in Toronto in the event of disaster.

Last year, the worst did happen when a fire at William Osler Health Centre‘s main campus in Brampton forced patients to relocate to other facilities for several days.

Fortunately for the hospital, no patient records were lost permanently. But the hospital issued an RFP to find a storage solution to mirror the information just in case lightning struck twice.

“”We (were) really unprotected. Should our system go down and we have a fire . . . our restore time could be hours, days or weeks. We needed something much better than that for our patients,”” said Oster’s CIO, Judy Middleton.

“”We wanted somebody who was going to take this business problem and be a prime vendor for the whole solution.””

Teranet was chosen through the RFP process for this reason. Using EMC’s SRDF data replication software and its Symmetrix storage area network (SAN) product, the patient records can be duplicated at Teranet’s data centre facilties.

“”This idea of a recovery for mission-critical systems has been around for lots of time and it seems to always be on the top list of things that hospitals need to do, but unfortunately it’s not until something of a severe nature happens,”” said Donalds Stokes, business development manager at Teranet.

The software was put in place by JJWild, one of only two Ontario integrators certified on Meditech, the management system the hospital uses for patient records.

“”It’s synchronous replication based on a premise of zero data loss. As it’s entered into their HCIS system — which in their case is Meditech — as the same time it hits their local system, it hits ours as well,”” said Stokes.

“”If we should have a disaster we have our infrastructure and our data secure in another offsite environment. So within another three to four hours, we could be accessing the information,”” added Middleton.

There are 11 facilities which access the records at Osler’s Brampton campus. Should those records be unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances, the other sites will be pointed to the records at Teranet’s data centre. When the original records are available again, they will be updated automatically.

The system went live in June, but the hospital is planning a full test in October just to put it through its paces. “”We will take all of our systems down here and failover (to the Teranet data centre) so that we really prove that this is working,”” said Middleton.

At the moment, records access is limited to the 11 sites affiliated with the main campus, but as more and more Canadian hospitals move towards electronic records management and the sharing of data, that could change, she added.

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