Recommendations, practical advice and checklists
Backup is the process of copying files or databases so they are preserved in the event of equipment failure or other catastrophes.
It is an essential activity for general practice to have backup procedures in place.
Backing up business-critical information is a requirement in order for a general practice to achieve accreditation.
It is recommended that practices have a reliable information backup system to support timely access to business and clinical information.
In addition to having a sound backup system in place, your practice needs a continuity plan to encompass all critical areas of your practice’s operations.
This guide does not provide specific advice regarding general practice information technology (IT) requirements, as this is unique to each individual general practice. It is recommended that you consult an IT professional when implementing new technologies into your practice.
Nathan: So backups again, are another really interesting issue. We've come from a legacy world where essentially most practices, most general practices, manage their own data. They have their own infrastructure on-site. This has been a 20 to 25 year progression. We have our own servers, we have our backup servers, and we have backup systems and it's stored on-site and then somebody takes the backup off-site. Why do we do that? Because we know that systems crash. So we need to have a system where we can adequately protect the data and be able to restore the data in a timely fashion, and that's why we do backups. As I said, because we manage most of our computer systems on-site in general practice, we take the responsibility for that.
Why do we need to do backups? Well, if we were using cloud-based systems, if we had high speed, highly reliable internet services and software that actually connected to the cloud, you wouldn't need to worry about backups. It would sit in the cloud and become somebody else's responsibility. But in our environments we manage our own backup.
So you need a system in place to ensure that the backups you do are actual real backups - that the backups are protected and that when you have a problem and you need to restore data, whether it's a partial restoration or a complete restoration, that you can do that in a timely fashion so that you have business continuity. So backups form part of your disaster recovery plans and your business continuity plans, so it makes more sense to have a system that you have reliable backup. And when I talk about reliable backup, it's not backup that you do once a day and send it off and get it back two or three or four days later… real backup is backup in real time. So you need a system that backs up between your servers, information that gets sent potentially off-site in real time. All of that is now available. I don't think it's good enough any longer just to have a backup once a day and hope for the best. The RACGP has developed a number of resources and the backup resource is a really good guide, it gives you some high-level principles about how you should tackle the backup approach. Again, there's no one-size-fits-all. It's really important to speak to your I.T. professional, but essentially you need a system that says we are confident that in the event that our system fails we can get back to the latest piece of information - that might not be the very last consultation, but it's got to be pretty close to that.
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