With Hurricane Harvey’s recent devastation of the Texas gulf coast fresh in our memories, and Hurricane Irma about to make landfall in Florida, now is a good time to consider your practice’s preparation for a hurricane or any other disaster. It's not too late to prepare! While not every eventuality can be anticipated, there are a few basic steps you can take that will give your practice the best chance of returning to patient service as quickly and completely as possible after a natural disaster.
Patient records: Even in the absence of a natural disaster, backing up patient records is essential. But where are your back up records kept? Keeping them on site may be convenient, but that puts them at risk for destruction if your physical plant is destroyed or damaged. Consider a secure, cloud-based service for duplicate records or keep them in a remote location at some distance from your main business. Whatever solution you choose, remember that frequent updates are important, and be sure to adhere to all relevant laws and best practices regarding the security of all patient information.
Business records: If your business location is damaged or destroyed in a disaster, do you have the paperwork that will allow for a speedy recovery? Consider taking copies of important contracts with vendors, insurance policies, and any other paperwork that is critical to either running your business or recovering from a disaster. Some practices keep a notebook just for this function. Such a notebook would keep essential paperwork centralized and could be duplicated so that copies are located both in the main office and in a remote location.
Communication: How are you going to communicate with your patients and staff before, during, and after a natural disaster? If you have some warning, as in the case of a hurricane, consider notifying your patients of your office’s plan and how they can access medical care during the disruption of your business. Communication with your staff is important as well. Alternate email addresses and multiple phone numbers for each staff member will make staying in touch during and after a disaster more likely.
Work site: Have you considered what you would do if your office is destroyed in a weather event like a hurricane? Consider a pre-arrangement with another practice to share workspace should one of your practices be destroyed or otherwise unusable.