Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Health Data Management asked several health I.T. leaders what effect, if any, the events of that day had on the industry. Here are their responses:

Bill Spooner, SVP & CIO, Sharp HealthCare, San Diego:

"While we point to other disasters like Katrina and wildfires, 9/11 is the exclamation point. When pressing to fund our disaster recovery plans, we now seldom hear, 'It can't happen to us!'"

Ernie Hood, senior research director at the Advisory Board Company and former CIO at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle:

"Maybe it was because we were West Coast, but I can't say I recall us taking any actions due to 9/11 at Group Health. Honestly, Katrina had a bigger impact and inspired our board to get nervous about disaster recovery, and swine flu caused the state of Washington to up our game a bit on syndromic surveillance, but I can't recall us doing anything special due to 9/11."

John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston:

"9/11 had a profound impact on our culture, making us all understand our vulnerability. The loss of life gave us an appreciation of the preciousness of each day we have on the planet, putting the problems of our I.T. work lives in perspective.

"The loss of infrastructure, including many data centers, was a wake-up call that redundancy goes beyond servers, networks, and storage.  Whole buildings can disappear in an instant through natural or manmade disaster.

"From 2002-2011, Beth Israel Deaconess invested over $10 million dollars to create a redundant I.T. infrastructure that includes geographically disparate data centers, remote hosting of our financial applications, and data replication of a petabyte with less than a minute of loss in the case of a major disaster.

"We support remote, web-based access of all our applications and data so that our mission can continue even if travel into Boston is restricted.

"Our healthcare information exchange efforts have created a foundational backbone for care coordination in the event of a disaster.

"The events of 9/11 are felt throughout the country, but especially in Boston, the takeoff point for the planes that were flown into the World Trade Center towers. At my daughter's recent Tufts University matriculation ceremony, the Dean reflected that three members of her freshman class lost parents on 9/11.    

"Our homage to the events of 9/11 is a resilient I.T. infrastructure that can support our patients, regardless of the disasters that may strike."


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