How To Prepare Your Medical Practice For A Disaster

When a natural disaster strikes the thoughts of most unprepared business owners will turn to their company. Without a disaster recovery plan most business owners will not know how long it will take them and what they should do to get their business stabilized in the few days after a disaster has struck. By having a unique disaster plan in place before a catastrophe occurs business owners can keep themselves from losing their clients and business in the face of a natural disaster. This is especially important for a medical practice which, unlike other businesses, will usually see an influx of patients immediately following any type of local catastrophe. While most small businesses have time to get themselves and their business back together before needing to serve their clients again, a medical practice can begin receiving calls and patients within hours of a natural disaster hitting if not sooner. A disaster plan does not have to be complicated, but it does need to be implemented as soon as possible. Disasters can strike at any time, and it pays to be prepared so that you can deal with them quickly and effectively.

Establishing a communication plan between you and your employees should be the first step in setting up a disaster plan.  Put key employees in charge of tasks such as keeping computer and paper files secure, letting other employees know where to go and what to do, and keeping patients up-to-date with information and developments. It is well worth it to have one person in charge of all disaster training and compliance and to go over the plan every six months to one year so that all employees remain aware of it. In addition, make copies of your plan and give one to each employee. These copies should include employee and emergency phone numbers.

If your office already uses a call center then check with them to be sure that they have their own disaster backup plans in place. Even if you office does not use a call center you should think about implementing this type of service so that your patients can reach your office in case of any emergency in your area. A call center will be able to take all incoming calls, and you will be able to easily get your messages in one place. Your patients can stay secure in the knowledge that you are still attending to them and their needs as well as keep any patients from experiencing further stress and harm.

Always keep your computers files backed up offsite. Medical practices need access to a patients records and medical history at all times. By keeping your electronic files in a secure offsite location you can make sure that even in times of emergency you will be able to easily get to patient files. The best way to do this is by filing them via an online cloud so that they can be accessed remotely at any time. Be sure to follow HIPAA training guidelines when choosing how to store and backup your patient files. 

In addition to communicating with your staff and patients you should also have a plan for communicating with other vendors, investors, and creditors to keep them up-to-date with your office during a disaster. Letting them know about your disaster plan before can go a long way in alleviating their fears should a disaster hit you.  While these people will not necessarily be your first concern after a disaster it can be helpful to communicate with them as soon as possible because they will likely be concerned with how you are faring. 

Kurt Duncan is the Director of Operations of MedConnectUSA is a leading provider in medical telemessaging services.