CIO Corner.

IT in the storm: Keeping our systems available for you.

A few short weeks ago, Harvey impacted many in our Houston Methodist family, our city and the region. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with all who suffered loss, as well as with those who are giving of themselves to help Houston and the region recover.

Because natural disasters are unpredictable, we remain constantly vigilant to ensure our IT systems are available to support care for our patients.

Disaster readiness. In a digital world.

Our disaster recovery plan envisions the incomprehensible, like the devastation we experienced with Harvey. We prepare for the worst-case scenarios to ensure we stand ready for any emergency.

This is what hurricane preparedness looks like in the digital age. This is how we sustain the highest quality patient care, no matter the weather.

Robert K. Eardley, Chief Information Officer

Physician first-hand report.

Floodwaters forced my family and I to evacuate, and our chief medical information officer opened his home to us. Spending this time with Dr. Nicholas Desai gave me a front-row seat into how well our systems work, even when a physician can’t get to the hospital.

Dr. Desai cared for patients at Houston Methodist Sugar Land throughout the storm and its aftermath.

During Harvey, we didn’t skip a beat because of our mobile tools, including e-prescribing. I watched him access patient information remotely using Epic apps, and communicate with other physicians using the PerfectServe secure messaging app.

Finding an open pharmacy presented a significant barrier for Sugar Land patients going home from the hospital. This posed a risk of them not being able to take their prescribed medications at home.

Dr. Desai and his colleagues decided to change patients’ preferred pharmacies to the open pharmacy closest to the hospital. The care team physically picked up patients’ medications at that pharmacy, before discharging patients, sending them home with medications in hand. Our e-prescribing capability made this possible. Our dedication to our patients made it a reality.

This is what it means to be a Houston Methodist patient.

Caring for employees in the storm.

Many of our Houston Methodist family experienced the loss of their homes and vehicles during Harvey.

Our Web Services team partnered with HR to launch a Hurricane Help website with information to assist employees, including where to find temporary housing, ride sharing and child care, as well as other resources like special instructions on refilling prescriptions, financial assistance resources and more.

We worked hand-in-hand with HR during Harvey to make this information easily accessible when a number of our employees needed the basic necessities of life.

Mobile, remote access. Seamless patient care.

One of our key initiatives has been enabling mobile and remote access to our systems.

Harvey put us to the test in real life, letting us see exactly how well this works. It gave me an added perspective, seeing our physicians seamlessly provide excellent patient care using our toolkit of secure mobile apps.

Our Apps Center (Apps.HoustonMethodist.org) provides remote access to many applications. The cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 suite of apps will complete its rollout to all hospitals by early 2018, enabling expanded functionality when away from work. Smartphone apps made our information accessible remotely. Our smartphone mobile manager app made this information secure. These systems made it possible for a number of Houston Methodist employees to work remotely during Harvey.

For disasters large and small, we’re prepared.

Harvey buffeted us with relentless wind and rain, submerging the region in floodwaters. This storm devastated the city, displacing many thousands, with reckless disregard for anyone’s health status. For our Houston Methodist patients, we were able to deliver the seamless, excellent care they trust us to provide. Harvey tested our IT systems, and they passed. We were ready for the storm, and our systems supported patient care and operations without fail.