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Business Continuity for Healthcare Industry - A COVID-19 Manual

Business-Continuity-for-Healthcare-Industry

Healthcare business continuity is more important today, that it has ever been. The onset of the pandemic took the healthcare industry by storm for more than one reasons.

Yes, no one could have predicted that COVID-19 would wreak havoc to such a degree. But the ones that had a healthcare business continuity plan in place, may have been in a better position to handle the repercussions head on. 

Among most other industries, healthcare needs a concise & effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to protect their patients & employees. Healthcare Business Continuity is essential to continue their services during a crisis or in adverse circumstances.

If a catastrophe strikes, your company must have seamless recovery in place with reduced medical or financial implications to limit downtime & maximize efficiency.

Every business needs a Business Continuity Plan. An effective BCP keeps your business running during a crisis or an emergency. Due to pandemic, a majority of purchases are migrated online, businesses suffer an uncertain moment in time.

To be financially stable and to ensure smooth business operation when disaster strikes, you must have a Business Continuity Plan or recovery plan in the first place.

More than 75% of businesses without BCP fails within 3 years after facing a disaster. Socio-political risks, Supply chain disruption, Production failures, Employee injury, outlets disaster, and many other factors affect Healthcare business operations.

Having an effective Business Continuity Plan in the Healthcare industry will help you to handle these unforeseen situations & provide the utmost patient care.

In this blog, we have analyzed & complied the most effective strategies that ensure Healthcare Business Continuity based on three risk areas, 

  • IT 
  • Clinical 
  • Operation & Financial 

To develop an effective Healthcare BCP, the members of the Business Continuity team must coordinate with each department process owner to create a Business Continuity Plan checklist. Everyone must stick to the BCP checklist when a catastrophic event occurs.

Let us discuss how to ensure Healthcare Business Continuity in each of these areas in detail.

IT Business Continuity strategies

During the disaster, as a Healthcare organization, you must backup patient health information, payment information & other sensitive information. If you have outsourced IT processes, then you must have a different BCP strategy.

IT

The following points will help you to resolve IT-related BCP strategies.

  • First things first, you must have a backup facility - ensure your network capacity is suitable to move huge files between systems. Try to backup important data & files in an off-site or alternative location, which minimizes the loss of data & ensures immediate access.
  • Convert confidential paper files into digital copy & store it or destroy unwanted confidential files periodically. Having a backup plan is not only important but also you must also consider restoration timings & complexities for fast recovery.
  • Usage of applications/software for Appointment Scheduling, Hospital Management, Telemedicine, and Medical Database is emerging in the Healthcare industry. You must make sure it is very easy to use and ensure frontline workers are doing it in the way it should be done. (Digital Adoption Platform does this best!)
  • You must have a plan for outsourced processes, brief your Healthcare Business Continuity Plans with your vendors & ensure your data will be safe and retrievable during any event of a crisis. For the worst-case situation, make sure you can at least restore or return to an earlier version of systems.

Clinical Business Continuity strategies

In Healthcare, doctors require patient’s Electronic Health Record (digital version of the patient’s chart) to get the exact information about the patient which is required to diagnose them.

Clinical

Patient portals or web applications must work properly to provide access to patients (for example to fix appointments or to raise any query). The Healthcare Business Continuity plan plays a significant role to overcome clinical risk during any catastrophes.

  • In this case, your Clinical Risk Management (CRM) team must peel the onion layer by layer to understand the potential risks or risk drivers. This team must analyze all the possibilities of clinical risks (what, when & how things can go wrong) including the severity & cost that risk could cause. Based on the analysis, you must have a Healthcare Business Continuity plan to address all the clinical risks.
  • Involve medical professionals in Healthcare Business Continuity Planning to ensure critical clinical equipment is prioritized & available for treatments. Critical equipment must have periodic check-ins to ensure proper functioning. Designate a team to have complete responsibility for monitoring machinery, ambulance service, and other care settings.
  • Every year, in the United States alone, 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error. Since many doctors are providing a virtual diagnosis to the patients due to the pandemic situation, there is a chance of medication errors. To avoid these situations, you must provide patients EHR and make it securely accessible to the doctors.
  • Backup patient’s portal records and during the event of a disaster (server or portal issues) make sure patients can access medical information offline. Make arrangements that allow your patients to make or change appointments via phone call.

Operation & Financial Business Continuity strategies

Operational risks are those that result in inadequate or failed internal processes that affect normal business operations. Financial risks are those that affect financial sustainability.

Operation-and-Financial

Operational & financial risks might include poor documentation, inefficient staffing, credit & interest rate fluctuations, improper billing & collection. Healthcare Business Continuity Plan helps to be financially stable and to ensure normal business operations.

  • Many hospitals are completely occupied for Coronavirus treatment. Patients safety along with the safety of hospital staff & doctors are now being a bigger challenge. Have a separate team to monitor in-house beds, ventilators, clinical equipment, generators, and pharmaceutical product.
  • Partner with your organization suppliers to get what you need quickly & efficiently. Instead of buying products from one vendor try to have 2 to 3 vendors, as in case of emergency there is a chance of getting 2/3rd of your supplies on time. Analyze the medical market and have a reliable partner that has your necessary equipment ready & available all the time (even when the orders are huge).
  • Maintain proper Inventory Management Team (IMT) to stock enough medicine, food, patient's bed covers, water, and other must-have items for a particular period (until you make alternative arrangements). Now, you have the breathing time to identify a third-party service to provide the must-have items and other medical devices.
  • Patient Accounting System (PAS) is important. Have a plan to collect & store the billing information when the PAS is down. Consider assigning a team to be responsible that billing information, doctor prescription, and other clinical information are captured in the PAS, once it functions normally.

Here we have covered the important Healthcare Business Continuity points/strategies that you must follow to handle & ensure normal Healthcare operations during any event of a crisis. Prepare and train your employees to handle unexpected events. 

Analyze the market and adapt the latest technology that can help to ensure Business Continuity. To make the usage of critical web-based Healthcare applications easy & ensure Business Continuity leverage Digital Adoption Platform.

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Revanth Periyasamy
Written by Revanth Periyasamy

Revanth is a marketing champ at Apty. An ardent tech geek who loves to write on trending topics and is a big fan of all things relating to marketing.

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