In our Practice Management Nugget series on January 29, 2015, we spoke with Paul Kirvan of Paul Kirvan Associates (PKA) in our interview, Business Continuity (What’s the worst thing that could happen in your business?) Paul is a recognized leader in business continuity advisory services.
The business continuity (BC) planning process includes project initiation, risk assessment, business impact analysis, strategy development, plan development, plan exercising and maintenance, emergency communications, awareness and training and coordination with public authorities.
Tweet this – Paul’s #1 Tip: Have an emergency response plan for your organization.
No matter how large or small your health care practice legislation, regulation, and business common sense tells us that we need an emergency response plan to protect the safety and well-being of your patients and your employees. You can re-purpose the emergency response plan to develop a business continuity plan. Just make sure you focus on the people, process, facilities, and technology assets your organization needs to function normally.
Prepare your business continuity plan before you open your health care practice. It would be bad luck to have an emergency right away but, if you are prepared, it doesn’t have to be a disaster.
Start your business continuity plan
Your owner and the management team of your healthcare practice should be the champions of developing a business continuity plan in your practice. You might also include information technology support, human resources, building maintenance, media spokesperson ,and risk management advisor. It’s a good idea to set up a project plan, identify project objectives, and set target dates for completion of the assessment.
Assess your office’s critical functions and assets
Conduct an initial assessment of your practices’ critical activities and systems. The assessment sets a baseline that will help identify what is needed to move your organization to a place where everyone on staff is prepared to respond quickly and efficiently to a potentially disruptive event.
Identify potential threats
Your list of critical activities helps you identify the mission-critical functions of your practice that must be protected and recovered and the employee positions that must be maintained. Knowing this helps you determine your priorities for your next steps.
Develop the plan
Identify the strategies you’ll take to protect your patient/clients, employees, and mission-critical resources. This might include backing up or moving to another location followed by recovering the equipment and information and returning them to normal operations. Include a detailed evacuation plan that each of your employees can access both at work and from their home.
Incident response plan is a step-by-step plan for responding to the incident after it occurs. Include how you are going to make decisions and who has the authority to make decisions. Include detailed phone and contact lists. Make sure the plan is fully documented, both in hard copy and electronic formats.
Practice the plan
Exercise the plans periodically to ensure they work as designed and can recover critical systems and return operations to normal. Paul recommends exercising both business continuity and technology disaster recovery plans at least quarterly. Include emergency communications, awareness and training and coordination with public authorities.
A business continuity plan in your practice is critical to protect your employees, patients and your business to be prepared for a crisis. Your goal is to recover your health care practice to where it can provide patient care and support its clinical and administrative teams in a “business as usual” manner.
For more tips, tools, and resources that you can use right away to prepare for business continuity in your practice, see Paul’s interview.