Standing Up to the Forces of Nature

3 minutes read

Wildfire season is upon us in the West. Hurricane season is underway in the East. It’s never a good time for your healthcare practice to go offline, but for it to happen during a global pandemic would be especially devastating for your patients and your practice.

Patients need peace-of-mind knowing they can reach their providers despite natural disasters.

Experts Predict Highly Active Seasons for 2020

Last year, wildfires in California and across other states in the West caused massive destruction, forcing communities to evacuate and businesses to close temporarily, including many healthcare facilities. Having fewer options puts a strain on those facilities that are still open. Ultimately, it’s the patients and closed practices that suffer most.

The 2020 hurricane season only just started, and already it’s breaking records. Beyond the high winds and loss of power, the threat of the aftermath is just as dangerous. Flooding that threatens buildings and equipment, and downed trees that block roadways can last long beyond the storm itself.

Preparedness Pays Off

Disaster recovery isn’t much different than insurance, except insurance coverage is clearly written out, stating exactly what is or isn’t covered. You can choose the level of reimbursement you would get if the worst-case scenario happened to you. With disaster recovery (DR) planning, it isn’t as clear, but it can be.

DR planning is more than paying a quarterly premium. It’s something that needs continuous monitoring, testing, and adjusting. Done well, it will save your practice time, money, and ensure your patients are getting the care they expect.

Here are a couple of real examples from healthcare practices we work with that underscore how valuable a thoughtful backup and recovery plan can be. 

Can Your Patients Reach Your Practice During a Power Outage?

When it comes to being prepared, most people only think of data backup and recovery. We helped this group of orthopaedic practices create a plan for preventing any disruption to their patient access.

Last August, the California wildfires were burning near a popular orthopaedic group. Electricity was shut down in the area for several days due to the high winds and risk of sparking new fires. Yet in the face of this adversity:

  • Our clients didn’t have to shut their practices down.
  • Even without electricity, they didn’t miss a single patient call because they use our iVY cloud-based phone system and geographically diverse iVY call associates. These highly-trained agents represent the practice and schedule directly into their EHR.
  • Agents contacted every patient with an appointment and made new accommodations.
  • Patients continued to receive excellent care, and the practices didn’t have any downtime.

How Quickly Can You Restore Patient Records?

Data backup is critical to being able to get back to seeing and treating patients. Our Patient Shield team works with healthcare practices to design data backup plans specifically for EHR systems. Most practices don’t realize some options allow providers to continue to see patients, access, and update patient records in the EHR, even in recovery mode. It only works if you have it set up before you need it.

Our Patient Shield team works with several health networks in Florida and has seen first-hand the benefits of a solid DR plan.

Last year, hurricane Dorian was on track to make landfall right over the city where one of our clients operates. With the benefit of an established DR plan and a conscientious DR team, this practice didn’t experience any data loss.

Our Patient Shield team worked around the clock, in constant contact with the practice, including daily calls reviewing backups, offsite data transfers, and DR plans. When the tropical storm surges hit, the practice felt confident their data was protected.

Don’t Be Afraid. Be Ready.

Preparing for the worst-case scenario can protect your business and provide a sense of security for your patients. A disaster recovery plan for a healthcare practice looks a little different than a standard plan. There are a lot of considerations to ensure compliance with HIPAA rules for the backup, storage, and recovery of data. There are also your patients to consider. They like knowing they can reach your practice even when facing the adversity of a force of nature.

To learn more, contact a Patient Shield team member to set up a consultation for a comprehensive, healthcare-specific DR plan.