The recent devastating hurricanes in Florida and Texas point out how far we’ve come in transforming patient care through the power of health IT. A common theme in disasters is the stark reality of losing the tangible things that make up our lives, including homes, cars, computers, financial records, photographs and other irreplaceable items. For healthcare organizations, losing important medical records can jeopardize patient care – often at a time when it is needed most urgently.

Ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities, the storm wiped out medical records at small and medium-sized practices in multiple states. Physicians were forced to rely on memories and notecards to keep track of patient care and medical history. Paper files and localized servers were ruined, lost or otherwise unavailable for indeterminate periods of time.

In contrast, my company’s location in Sarasota, Florida stood directly in the path of Hurricane Irma earlier this month. But because we offer cloud-based EHR hosting services with HIPAA-compliant, redundant data centers located in Las Vegas and Jersey City, our customers’ data remained safe and accessible during and after the storm. Practices all over the country, including those within the path of the hurricane, experienced 100% availability, any time of the day or night. Our customers and their patients knew that of all the issues they might have to worry about, access to medical records wasn’t one of them.

Until recently, most small to medium-sized practices thought a cloud-based EHR was beyond the scope of what they needed. As data security concerns have increased – both from natural disasters and costly breaches– that perception is shifting. The cloud is becoming a more accepted model, and practices of all sizes are taking advantage of the technology to secure their future and positively impact patient care.

Originally featured on www.HealthITWeek.org