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All organizations should have a plan to ensure business continuity in case of a disaster; this is especially important for health providers. Being able to access patient data and preserve patient privacy is critical, no matter what events may occur.
Many man-made and natural disasters can cause localized or widespread interruptions to business continuity. Weather events and seismic events may be partly predictable, but the after-effects can be significant. Depending on location, your business must prepare for:
- Tropical storms or hurricanes
- Volcanic eruption
- Avalanches or landslides
- Dust storms
- Ice storms or hail storms
- Cold waves or heat waves
Any of these can affect not just your own business location, but also those of service providers, including utilities and telecommunications and more. Besides natural disasters, there are threats from man-made disasters to consider, such as civil unrest, concerted cyber-attacks, property theft, prolonged blackouts, along with the continued hazard of the global pandemic.
When a disaster occurs, you could lose power or connectivity. Your location could become inaccessible. Movement across the population can become limited. Being able to continue providing care is a priority. Business disaster preparedness means having a plan that considers many scenarios and lays out how to combat the challenges involved.
What needs to happen before a disaster? There is a lot you can do to prepare for a potential catastrophe.
Start by developing an operations plan and identifying who you depend on for essential services. Contact your providers, ranging from on-the-ground materials suppliers to cloud vendors. Ask what plans they have in place in case a disaster hits. This will let you know how much support you have along the supply chain, and where you can expect gaps to emerge.
Prepare for the worst by making sure your insurance is adequate and that your paperwork and payments are up to date. Invest in a water and fire resistant safe to store important documents. Save scanned copies in the cloud as backup. Invest in a backup for electricity as well — a generator can be critical to business continuity.
Organize your entire operation by creating an evacuation plan and designating a location as temporary HQ if required. Invest in communications and network software and equipment that will allow your organization to go remote if required.
Educate your workforce by holding workshops and drills to test your business continuity plan and look for weaknesses. Assign someone to train new employees and hold refresher seminars twice a year.
What must happen during a disaster? The core goal is to continue delivering needed care even in less than ideal circumstances.
Stay accessible to your patients by being prepared with alternative forms of communication in case your phone lines and email go down. Being able to contact your patients via text, with instructions on how to reach you in an emergency, can give them a sense of stability and security.
Maintain data security by investing with a technology partner who can store your data safely offsite and prevent data loss or breaches. They should also make it easy for you to access your data as you distribute your workforce and set up remote operations if necessary.
Keep communications and operations stable by appointing at least one person as liaison in charge of patient communications. Be sure they organize your operations team to provide quality patient experiences and access to care.
Coordinate with your vendors to keep things running smoothly. This is where your research into your partners and providers will pay off. Those with a robust business disaster preparedness commitment of their own will be ready to support you.
What needs to happen after a disaster? Recovery is more than just reopening doors and restoring normal working hours.
Return to normal business operations and notify your patients of any new protocols or requirements in place because of the disaster. Reassure them they are still your priority and ask for their feedback on how you handled the catastrophe.
Review your business disaster readiness plan against results. Did you maintain business continuity on all fronts? If not, where were the failures, and how can you learn from them? Was there a weak link among your vendors?
Improve your business continuity plan where possible. Perhaps you need additional people on the front line to manage patient questions and concerns. Maybe you need a new vendor to ensure uptime and network connectivity if the main physical servers go down. Maybe you just need better cohesion between you and your service providers.
Work with vendors to plug holes. Look for partners who will spend time with you meshing your business disaster readiness plans and creating a protocol for business continuity in the face of a disaster.
How Tangible can help
If you’re worried about the security and accessibility of patient records in the event of a disaster, Tangible can help. We can maintain your electronic medical records and ensure that your patient data is secure and patient privacy maintained. Simultaneously, we can ensure that you have ready access to your EMR from the safety of your remote HQ, home, or in the field from a connected, secure device.
This can help you maintain control over your patient database in times of catastrophe, allowing you to offer informed, appropriate care and develop remote diagnostic and treatment plans.
Our EMR hosting solution helps you maintain patient care quality no matter what events are occurring around you. We act as your stable technology partner in times of normal business operation and in times of disruption, so you can continue to deliver quality patient care.
To learn more, contact Tangible today.