There have been many articles on the internet informing you how to prepare for this
hurricane and how to recover afterward. Since this site is dedicated to the financial
success of your medical practice, we will discuss ways to protect your practice’s
financial health from a natural disaster and then recover quickly when it is over.
Obviously, as with any situation the best approach is to be properly prepared
before the disaster strikes. You may not need to use these emergency plans for years,
but when those emergencies come you will be glad that you have a plan in place.
Techniques to insulate your practice from the financial effects of such a disaster include:
1. Making sure you are properly insured. Though I am not an insurance expert and all
specific questions should be directed to your insurance agent, there are some basics
that you can do. Obviously you need insurance to cover physical damage to your
office and the furniture and other equipment. However other insurance that you may
want to consider includes work stoppage insurance. If you cannot reopen your office
for days, this is lost revenue that can be difficult to make up. Work stoppage
insurance will help you afford the bills and payroll that continue to come in even
when your office is unable to open.
2. Protect your perishable inventory. This protection can come in the form of insurance
to replaced lost or damaged inventory or through a back-up plan where you move
your vaccines and other perishable medicines and inventory to a facility with a
generator, like your local hospital. Of course these plans need to be worked out in
advance so that whoever is backing you up is aware of their responsibilities.
3. Protect your important records. Make sure that computer records are properly
backed up so that if computers become damaged , the records are not lost.
Physical charts and records should be kept in a safe place that is resistant to fire,
wind and water damage.
4. Have a back-up plan. This plan will include what you will do with your inventory as
mentioned above, but it will also include how you will communicate with staff and
patients about limited hours or different locations. It may include having an
alternative location where you can see patients until your office is able to re-open.
Your answering service will need to know how to handle calls during hours when you
would normally be open.
Once the disaster has hit, you want to get your office cleaned up quickly so that
you can begin seeing patients as soon as possible. To do this:
1. Put your emergency plan in place. Call all your staff to inform them of your plan.
Call patients to reschedule or inform them of your alternate location. If your plan
was put together well in advance, this process will be surprisingly smoothly,
2. Operate with a “skeleton crew”. While none of your staff wants to lose work hours, if
you are seeing less patients because of a disaster your revenue will be down and
you need to cut expenses. In addition you will not need the extra staff since your
schedule will be initially lighter than normal. So find a fair way to rotate which staff
members work and who are “furloughed.”
3. Consider extended hours to make up for lost revenue. Once your office is up and
running you need to recover the revenue lost from days of being closed. By staying
open two or three hours later, you can see some of the patients that you would have
previously seen. Your patients will appreciate your effort to accommodate them and
your. checking account will take less of a hit.
Although you may not be able to completely shelter your practice from a natural
disaster, these simple steps will help you make it as painless as possible.