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How much do hospitals depend on the internet?

Hospital Generic
Posted at 8:18 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 07:19:12-04

PHOENIX — Systems were down and patient records were inaccessible, according to employees on the inside at Phoenix Children's.

All these issues stemming from an internet outage at Phoenix Children's lasting for several hours today.

Hospital officials told ABC15 no patients were in harm's way or affected due to the outage.

But it got us thinking: Just how much do facilities like this depend on the internet in a day of modern medicine?

Technology seems to integrate into every part of our lives these days.

From the phones we carry to the cars we drive, even the healthcare we receive; all of it is tied back to the internet.

"I think just about everything at a hospital is dependent on the internet at this point," said Dr. Andrew Carroll, Medical Director and CEO of Atembis.

Dr. Carroll runs his own medical clinic in Chandler.

While a fraction of the size of Phoenix Children's, when it comes to patient care, the internet is essential for both.

"Pretty much all hospitals have gone to electronic means of record keeping," said Dr. Carroll.

He says gone are the days of filing cabinets and clunky manila folders filled with your most essential medical information.

Those are now kept in servers or the Cloud.

And while more efficient and accurate, when the internet goes out, it's a problem.

"You flip the switch, things like your lab work that was done that morning, your radiology studies may not be available, what you did yesterday may not be available," said Dr. Carroll.

In a world of life and death, every one of those details matters.

It can not only affect routine check-ups but potentially stall surgical procedures.

"It's important that the surgeons, the anesthesiologist, the entire team knows all of your information, your labs, your x-rays, why your there and what operation they're planning to do, that's all kept electronically," said Dr. Carroll.

Dr. Carroll tells ABC15 most offices and major hospitals have redundancies built in place to stave off catastrophe if an internet outage occurs.

Banner Health says they run drills just for this type of situation.