The growing importance of continuous medical care during a disaster
It has been four years since the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is an approach intended to prevent businesses from shutting down or to help them resume important operations within a targeted recovery time following an earthquake or other major incident.
BCP is a particularly important issue for medical facilities, such as hospitals. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2013, 78.8% of all medical treatment centers used during major earthquakes or other large scale disasters have fortified their facilities to improve earthquake resistance. These centers have not only taken hard measures to strengthen physical structures, such as hospital buildings, but also soft measures, such as backing up medical record data in remote locations and creating patient information reference systems using smartphones.
Under these circumstances, Fujitsu has collaborated with six core hospitals in the Nagoya medical care zone (Note 1) to jointly construct a treatment information backup system. This environment provides medical care services without interruption in the event of a disaster, and has been fully operational since 2013 as the Aichi Medical BCP.
Fujitsu used Human Bridge BCP Solution in its disaster response solution for medical care facilities provided as a private cloud. Although there were cases in the past where hospitals in a region shared electronic medical records among themselves as part of hospitals working together, this is Fujitsu’s first approach to continuous medical care services focusing on disaster response.
(Note 1) Nagoya University Hospital, National Hospital Organization Nagoya Medical Center, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, National Hospital Organization Higashi Nagoya National Hospital, Japan Red Cross Nagoya Daini Hospital, and Nagoya Ekisaikai Hospital
Patient details, examination results and other medical information, backed up in robust data center
The strength of Aichi Medical BCP is its advanced network technology coupled with highly reliable security. The six hospitals store; patient details, medical history, prescription information, examination results, and other medical care information contained in the electronic medical records of each hospital, in the backup systems at Fujitsu’s highly secure data center in the SS-MIX (Note 2) format, enabling continuous operation and management 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
This makes it possible for the participating hospitals to refer to medical care information by accessing the backup systems at Fujitsu’s data center even if their electronic medical data systems are damaged by a disaster. Also, during an emergency, changing the settings at the data center based on the agreement made between the hospitals will allow them to cross reference data to quickly access medical information for a total of 500,000 people.
Assuming some hospitals cannot access the backup systems due to blackouts or network shutdowns, medical care information in the SS-MIX format is saved on battery-driven notebook computers at each hospital. This backup on the cloud and on-site allows hospitals to address more challenging scenarios.
Patients receive appropriate and efficient medical care without visiting their regular hospital as medical and basic information (including patient details, medical history, prescription information, and examination results) can be checked from any hospital.
(Note 2) SS-MIX (Standardized Structured Medical record Information eXchange): Business for Promoting the Exchange of Electronic Medical Care Data by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Safe and secure care in an emergency through collaboration between regional medical institutions
The medical network will be effective for sharing information and providing quick medical care during disasters in regions with a high probability of large-scale earthquakes.
This initiative is likely to accelerate efforts aimed at preserving medical care information that can be referenced during disasters. Furthermore it develops an environment that allows the rapid launch of medical care activities at disaster center hospitals in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
There are major concerns regarding the occurrence of serious earthquakes, such as those from the Nankai Trough and earthquakes from directly under the Tokyo area. As a result disaster prevention measures at hospitals need strong consideration by the parties involved in medical facility management, medical equipment manufacturers, and others. As with the six hospitals that participated in this initiative, Fujitsu will encourage other medical facilities to contribute to promoting information sharing in regional medical care by continuing to improve the functionality of the system.