6 Tips to Keep Your Practice Prepared for Emergencies & Disasters

6 Tips to Keep Your Practice Prepared for Emergencies & Disasters

The recent hurricane and earthquake devastations in our world may have you thinking about your own personal situation: what would you do if you lost all of your possessions? For most people, it is unfathomable to lose personal property in one day. For business owners, emergency situations and natural disasters take on a whole new level of stress – especially if that one business as a source of income suddenly vanishes.

Losing a medical practice, having it severely damaged or even having an extended power outage has its own set of unique challenges. You have patients that are depending on you to not only continue medical care but also protect their confidential patient information. If you don’t have a plan in place already, here are 6 tips to start implementing right away:

  1. Secure Patient Information

Make sure your Electronic Medical Records system is housed in a secure location. It is important to have system back-ups in a different location in case of disaster. Don’t allow paper records to stack up in your office; create digitized versions of these documents in case the originals are destroyed by fire, wind or rain.

  1. Assign Someone to Be in Charge

In case of an emergency, your team needs to have a pre-chosen leader. This person should be able to make quick, smart decisions for the safety of your patients and your staff. It may be advisable to assign two people for this task in case one person is not available for any reason. Disaster preparedness training could be helpful as well.

  1. Create Your Plans

While you cannot prepare for every emergency, you can get a good start by assigning a team to work on written policies. You should develop a protocol for power outages, one for hurricanes, one for tornadoes, one for fires, etc. Many of the steps in these different plans can be the same, but at least your staff will have a baseline idea of how to react in different situations.

  1. Open the Communication Channels

In any emergency, people have questions. You can be proactive in helping calm your patients’ (and staff’s) nerves by having a communication protocol in place. For example, if your practice loses power, you may plan to move patients into a common area so you can relay honest, forthcoming information at one time. If your building is seriously damaged, you may have a plan to use social media or traditional news media to alert your patients on the progress of your rebuilding. Be sure to keep HIPAA regulations in mind when communicating with patients out of the norm.

  1. Know How Your Vendors Will React

If your equipment becomes destroyed, you should have an idea of how long your vendors will take to replace the tools you need to perform your job and treat your patients. Know whether or not you will be responsible for those replacement costs. It may be a good idea to meet with each vendor one-on-one to discuss all of the ramifications of an emergency situation for your partnership.

  1. Practice Your Plans

It is a good idea to have emergency drills on a regular basis to refresh everyone’s memories on how to respond and make changes where necessary. For example, if the person you have chosen to lead your team leaves your practice, a new person should be designated. The more prepared you are, the better your patients and staff will feel when faced with the unthinkable.

Advantage Healthcare Consulting has a partner network to help your practice learn ways to protect your patients and their sensitive information in the case of an emergency or disaster. Contact us today to learn more.