The Power of Resilient and Redundant Healthcare Technology Systems

Redundancy and resilience are two foundational principles to ensure healthcare technology systems remain functional, particularly in the midst of challenges and disasters, like outbreaks and data breaches. This became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently in light of the Change Health Care incident. Establishing redundancy and resiliency in healthcare technology ensures sustained, comprehensive interoperability. This is critical particularly in healthcare, where any system failure can have serious consequences for patient care. As healthcare becomes more digitized and interconnected, the complexity and potential vulnerabilities of these systems also increase. This necessitates a stronger focus and shared responsibility to build resilience and redundancy into healthcare technology systems.

Resilience is defined as the ability to prepare for, manage (absorb, adapt and transform) and learn from shocks (source: National Library of Medicine). Given the interoperable nature of our healthcare ecosystem, resilience focuses on identifying and filling gaps between systems, networks, and connected ecosystems.

Redundancy is defined as provision of duplicate, backup equipment, processes, pathways or systems that immediately take over the function of existing functionality or business processes (source: Gartner). For instance, if a primary server fails, a backup server can take over, ensuring that patient data is still accessible and that critical healthcare services can continue. Following the Change Health Care incident, The American Hospital Association (AHA) made recommendations about “backup technology which renders the backups “immutable” — unable to be deleted, altered or encrypted.”

Building a resilient and robust healthcare technology system involves strengthening human resources, infrastructure, and technological capacities. This includes investing in technology training for healthcare workers and building robust and resilient IT infrastructure. It also means promoting strong primary healthcare interoperability, which heavily relies on interconnected data sharing for health data management, communications, and HIPAA-compliant claims management. This is specifically relevant in times of crisis.

For example, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UHIN initiated real-time notifications from hospitals and labs in and around Utah that could be sent directly to healthcare providers, ACOs and care managers. This focus on interoperability enabled all stakeholders to monitor and coordinate care more effectively for their patients, especially those in greater need of physician intervention. Real-time notifications enabled participants to act swiftly, reduce manual labor, and access data from care partners more easily. UHIN continues to deliver COVID-19 lab result alerts today.

Building resilient and redundant healthcare technology systems is not just about investing in technology. It’s also about investing in the people who use these systems. Developing partner relationships is key to building resilient and redundant healthcare technology systems. By fostering collaboration and open communication, organizations can jointly tackle the complexities of healthcare technology, ensuring that systems are robust, adaptable, and capable of supporting seamless interoperability. Strong partner relationships also facilitate the sharing of best practices, innovative solutions, and technical expertise, thereby enhancing system resilience and redundancy. Ultimately, these partnerships contribute to a more reliable, efficient, and patient-centered healthcare technology ecosystem.

The Benefits & Challenges of Interoperability in Disaster Recovery

When it comes to interoperability, which refers to the ability of different systems and organizations to communicate and exchange information effectively, the healthcare ecosystem relies on maintaining seamless operations in times of success and disaster. There are both benefits and challenges associated specifically with disaster recovery for interoperability. Let’s explore them in more detail:


Data Accessibility and Availability: Interoperability in disaster recovery ensures that data remains accessible and available across different systems and organizations during and after a disaster. This capability enables timely decision-making, efficient coordination, and effective response efforts.

Collaboration and Coordination: Disaster recovery for interoperability promotes collaboration and coordination among various entities involved in the recovery process. It allows different organizations, such as emergency responders, to share critical information, resources, and expertise, thereby enhancing overall response effectiveness.

Rapid Information Exchange: Interoperability facilitates the rapid exchange of information between different systems and stakeholders. This enables real-time situational awareness, timely updates, and the ability to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date data.

Seamless Integration: Disaster recovery efforts that prioritize interoperability ensure seamless integration between disparate systems. This integration enables smooth data flow, eliminates information silos, and enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the recovery process.


Technical Compatibility: Achieving interoperability in disaster recovery can be challenging due to the need for technical compatibility between different systems, platforms, and protocols. Integrating legacy systems with newer technologies, addressing data format inconsistencies, and ensuring seamless communication can require significant effort and resources.

Data Standardization: In disaster recovery scenarios, different organizations often use their own data standards, formats, and terminology. Harmonizing and standardizing these diverse data elements can be complex and time-consuming. Without consistent data standards, interoperability may be compromised, leading to delays, miscommunication, and errors.

Security and Privacy Concerns: Interoperability in disaster recovery requires the secure exchange of sensitive information among multiple entities. Ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability while maintaining privacy rights is a significant challenge. Robust security measures and protocols must be in place to protect against unauthorized access, data breaches, and potential misuse of information.

Governance and Policy Alignment: Coordination and governance among multiple stakeholders are crucial for effective disaster recovery interoperability. Aligning policies, procedures, and decision-making frameworks across different organizations can be complex, especially in large-scale disasters involving multiple jurisdictions and diverse stakeholders. Clear governance structures and collaborative frameworks must be established to overcome these challenges.


In conclusion, interoperability offers numerous benefits in times of success and during disaster recovery, including data accessibility, collaboration, rapid information exchange, and seamless integration. However, challenges such as technical compatibility, data standardization, security concerns, and governance issues need to be addressed to maximize the effectiveness of interoperability efforts in the face of disasters. Organizations and stakeholders must work together to develop robust solutions that enhance interoperability while ensuring the resilience and reliability of their recovery processes.

While challenges persist, it’s important for organizations to work together to address these issues and ensure they’re able to reap the benefits of interoperability. Community engagement, including involvement of patients, providers, health plans, and other stakeholders in the design and implementation of health technology systems can ensure they are interoperable, effective, and align with their distinct needs and preferences. As technology continues to evolve, resiliency and redundancy will become increasingly important to achieving interoperability. Organizations that prioritize interoperability will be better equipped to succeed in today’s digital world.

The future of healthcare technology systems will depend on their capacity to adapt and evolve in response to new challenges and changing conditions. This means not only being able to respond effectively to immediate crises, but also preparing for long-term changes and uncertainties. By taking a comprehensive and multifaceted approach, we can build healthcare technology systems that are robust, resilient, and redundant in a way that meets the needs of everyone in healthcare.