The Internet is Down. You and Your Patients are Doomed by Stephen Mussey MD

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The Internet….

In just two decades, this connection to the world has gone from a fascinating novelty to a critical life-sustaining lifeline.

In many medical offices, the internet started as a faster method to access data from hospitalizations.

Then, it evolved into something more serious.

The internet became our Electronic Medical Records.

This makes sense. Maintaining a server in the office is expensive and fraught with issues of technical support and downtime

The cloud is safe and reliable

Except… …when the internet is down and the cloud vanishes.

When all of your records and your scheduling is in the cloud so you can meet Medicare requirements, you need the cloud to be working.

Without the cloud, you are doomed. Without the internet, your patients who depend on you to know their medical information, are really doomed.

You can’t schedule patients. You can’t see patients. You can’t even answer phone calls and respond to patient questions. You can’t refill prescriptions. You don’t even know which patients are coming in that day!

Almost every practice “in the cloud” knows or will know this nightmare.

It is not just inconvenient. It is potentially deadly.

Recently, a local hospital had their internet go down for many hours. Even though they drilled for such a down time catastrophe, there were too many unexpected problems. For patients, doctors, nurses, and even administrators, the experience was terrifying.

Imagine a car with the steering wheel suddenly disconnected as you careen down the highway.

Most offices have no back up plan.

Fortunately, internet outages are increasingly rare.

But, outages do happen.

Thanks to a storm last week, our internet went down until late the next morning. My backup plan failed miserably for too many reasons.

All I could think of was something like the old Star Trek line: “Dammit Jim, I’m just a country doctor! Not a computer network specialist!!!!”

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “The Internet is Down. You and Your Patients are Doomed by Stephen Mussey MD

  1. mamadoc
    July 14, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    AND may anesthesia NOT be there.

  2. Kurt
    July 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Go ahead and do 4 letter words. I use ’em all the time. Glad I’ll be gone in 5 or 6 years.

  3. Dr Dave
    July 10, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I have been in an outage now going on 6 days. the servers are up then down. I am up about 20% of the time and they tell us “we are working on it but a fiber was damaged” (like I care why)
    What I am told is no solution besides duplicate lines would have resolved it and if they did use duplicate lines there would need to be duplicates of EVERY line in the nation.
    We are shifting to a radio back up but we are being told that there is NO way bandwidth would be sufficient to carry the massive data we have become used to.
    We built a monster and need to figure out how to tame it before Dr Frankenstein really does see the monster live.
    Dr D

  4. Soccerdoc
    July 10, 2016 at 10:22 am

    This exact scenario happened to me last Monday–great start to the week. Fortunately backup plan worked–I pay monthly for Comcast to back up Verizon. The delay was in figuring out Verizon was down and how to make the switch.

  5. Steve O'
    July 10, 2016 at 8:54 am

    And of course, the eternal beancounter message – redundancy costs money!

    My city employs firefighters. Perhaps a hundred of them are on-duty now. I doubt if five of them are currently engaged. What a waste of money! Oh, really?

    I argued with a nitwit online explaining why to have anaesthesia present during some colonoscopies. I cited that “3% need aggressive anaesthesia response during procedure.” He was appalled – “only 3% That’s a criminal waste of taxpayer money!” my thrifty friend replied.

    Perhaps the GI doc could…decide…which patients needed anaesthesia? No, of course – the doctor’s just grifting Medicare to line his buddy’s pocket! There should be rules.

    There will be rules.

    Redundancy in IT is a battle between the IT folks, and the budget-balancers who don’t see why two servers are necessary when only one is being used.

    May they desaturate during their colonoscopy.

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