Microsoft Exchange Brings Unique Burdens to the Healthcare Arena

Microsoft Exchange Brings Unique Burdens to the Healthcare Arena

April 1

The value of Microsoft Exchange Server is realized across multiple sectors. Whether hosted or maintained in-house, this robust software application enables employees to enjoy an integrated email system complete with calender functionality, collaboration tools and other features that improve the efficiency of enterprise communications. However, businesses in the healthcare industry should be aware that this award-winning mail server comes with a unique set of challenges.

Oh No! Communication Breakdown!

Email is a primary method of communication in the healthcare sector. It gives physicians the ability to keep patients up to date with critical information, while allowing staff to seamlessly communicate with one another. These communications have literally become the crutch companies rely on to facilitate many of their day-to-day business operations.

Every email server is susceptible to downtime and even Exchange, all its capabilities aside, is no exception. That downtime, unfortunately, may result in severe consequences for the business that loses its ability to communicate. Without access to their email server, healthcare providers are essentially compromising patient care quality as well as the company’s bottom line.

Dude, Where’s My Email?

Believe it or not, emails can mysteriously disappear. This could happen when switching over from IMAP to your own mail server, or when the server itself crashes and leads to some untimely downtime. Whatever the culprit, it results in the same missing email that sends companies in a frustrating and often costly tailspin to try to recover their lost data.

Enter the HIPPA Dilemma

When it comes to running a corporate mail server, downtime and loss of email can result in compliance headaches just the same. Businesses in the healthcare vertical, specifically, have to satisfy the regulatory demands of HIPPA. Enacted in 1996, HIPPA was designed to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system and drafted with provisions that directly apply to email usage. In a nutshell, these rules call for organizations to take measures to maintain the privacy, confidentiality and integrity of the patient information contained in their messages and databases.

From the large facility that services thousands of patients to the small agency that handles transcriptions as a third party, HIPPA regulations impact all organizations in the healthcare field. Businesses in this demanding vertical must go above and beyond to protect their email infrastructure and the vital information it supports. Failure to comply carries some pretty stiff penalties, including hefty fines, prison time, and in worse case scenarios, both.

Back That Thang Up!

While it aims to and often succeeds at simplifying many would-be complex tasks, by now we all know technology is far from perfect. Software crashes, hardware failures and a host of other unforeseen glitches can quickly bring your mission-critical operations to a screeching halt. Combine that aspect with the unpredictability of ever untimely disasters and you have a genuine reason to be a little on edge. Dealing with so much sensitive information, healthcare entities need to be extra cautious, but luckily, can find a simple solution in a backup regimen.

In this day and age, backing up your data should not be viewed as an option, but a necessity. In the case of business communications, it can help ensure that your email database is recoverable — even in the event that the server software or hardware harboring it goes down. This is peace of mind parties in the healthcare business can’t afford to go without.

Don’t Sleep On Your Responsibilities

Backing up data on a regular basis is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. In fact, it’s a key component in business continuity planning. The consequences of failing to make this commitment can be dire, to say the least. According to a study conducted by Touche Ross, less than 10 percent of businesses survive without a disaster recovery plan. It goes to show that without a realistic way to recover from a unexpected catastrophe, bouncing back is next to impossible. This is one of many statistics that highlight the importance of making backing up a top priority.

By default, the healthcare industry has more than its fair share of unique challenges. Wondering whether contacts, messages and other email-related information can be accessed shouldn’t be one of them. By creating a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that accounts for the protection of all data — email data included — healthcare companies can make sure their critical business communications are available come rain, sleet or snow.

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