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Disaster Planning for Your Office—Are You Ready?

Aiden Spencer is a health IT researcher and writer at CureMD who focuses on various engaging and informative topics related to the health IT industry. He loves to research and write about topics such as Affordable Care Act, electronic health records, revenue cycle management, privacy, and security of patient health data. You can get in touch with him on Twitter @AidenSpencer15
Communicate
Periodically, you should be updating all the means of contacting your staff, phones, cell, and internet. And have that contact list with you, or in multiple places. You will need to be able to marshal your staff to help you overcome whatever has occurred, to let them know what is happening with the practice, and their employment. And, of course, let your patients know.

If you have a cloud-based system with your schedule and records, you can contact your patients if their care/appointments are impacted. If you’re still on paper, then when there is a storm warning, take a few days of your schedule printed out with patient contact information home with you and with your key staff.

In anticipation of an announced storm warning, you should not only stockpile what you need for your family, but also recognize that suppliers’ ability to distribute will likely be limited—stock up as needed for your practice. Depending on your location and situation, you may want to consider such preparedness as a generator for home and office. While some suppliers are good about exchanging spoiled vaccines, others are not. Keeping a refrigerator going may help avoid a loss. And it might not be a bad idea to check with your supplier as to their exchange policy such circumstances.

Money
The rule of thumb is to have 6 months of after-tax income liquid as a personal contingency. For your practice, you might think in terms of a line of credit, set up and available, to be drawn upon. After a disaster is no time to start tying to put together an application for a loan. A line of credit is appropriate in good times, and bad. See your friendly banker.

That personal emergency fund may be needed to ease the disruption of your income while your practice regains its volume and billing/payments start flowing again. Now, remember while a disaster may strike, there is no guarantee that your payers will waive timely filing rules. Often times they do if an area is declared a disaster area, but if it is a personal disaster—a fire, for example—be sure to send certified correspondence to a payer to advise them of what has happened and ask them for an extension of the timely filing rules. Payers are likely to be understanding when advised before they receive bills that should be denied for lack of timely filing. And have a ready appeal if they are not responsive.

While no one wants to dwell on a disaster hitting them, some relatively easy preparation can make such an occurrence just a disruption and less of a disaster.

 
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