Doctors from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, led by Adam Landman, M.D., were inspired to explore the problem when the hospital’s information systems help desk was inundated with calls from physicians who could no longer access a web-based image viewer from the emergency department’s tracking board.
The link from the ED tracking to the web-based image viewer was lost on workstations running Microsoft Explorer 6. It turned out the cause was a security update Microsoft had released days earlier.
As healthcare systems (hospitals) become more reliant/dependent on electronic medical systems these types of scenarios will become more common. Here are some steps, at a high level, that can help minimize these types of issues:
- Develop a formal change process that reviews updates prior to them being implemented.
- Develop a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process that allows the updates to be tested on certain PCs prior to being installed system wide.
- Force 3rd party vendors to keep their applications up-to-date with the latest versions of operating systems and browsers
- Don’t be on the bleeding edge of implementing system patches. For example, wait 30 days before installing Microsoft patches.
These are just a few items to consider but they definitely help in minimizing the impact to the clinical systems.