Continuity in Healthcare Means More than Disaster Planning

By Infinx
July 22, 2018

Healthcare infrastructure is under constant threat from disasters both natural and human-made. Our daily news is filled with environmental calamities such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and most recently volcano eruptions. In May, the FBI recommended that everyone reboot their routers due to malware threats. And if that isn’t enough, there is always the specter of internal disruption from identity theft, PHI disclosure, cyberattacks, or other security threat. In this blog, we explore how you should include potential financial consequences to your business in your business continuity plan.

CMS requires healthcare hospitals and practices to have a disaster plan, meaning such things as how we would recover and communicate patient information during a disaster, and provide care. But how many of us have planned how we will keep our organizations running financially? In addition to the apparent infrastructure challenges, your practice or hospital needs to anticipate the financial effects these disruptions can have to provide continuity in healthcare.

Hospital and Practice Disaster Example Questions – Assessing the Financial Implications

Every hospital and medical practice needs to anticipate the financial consequences of a disaster beyond physical recovery and challenges. Below are some of the top hospital business disaster example questions to be considered when planning for business continuity in healthcare due to a crisis.

1. Have you developed plans specifically tailored to certain events?

Although it is impossible to plan for every crisis scenario, both disaster and business continuity plans need to cover as many situations as possible. We all know that the financial implications of a fire can be drastically different from those of a malware attack resulting in loss of data. However, it is also important to think of other scenarios that can occur in a hospital such as bomb threats, infant and minor abductions, and physical threats to staff.

2. Have increases in staffing costs been accounted for?

If a segment of your employees is unable to get to work due to a disaster and you need to pay for agency employees to fill the gap, do you have the financial resources to get you through that period of time? What would the plan be if you needed to hire long-term, would you have the funds necessary to find and onboard new employees?

3. What is the plan if there is a loss to reputation?

Unfortunately, the result of some disasters, whether justified or not, is the loss of a facility’s good reputation in the community. According to a recent Spok survey of CHIME CIOs, 61% cited “damage to their hospital’s reputation and credibility” as one of their top three continuity in healthcare concerns. Building a budget to cover the necessary communications to your community should the need arise could significantly affect the recovery of your organization.

4. Has the cost of HIPAA and other compliance violations been anticipated?
Potential fines can result from violations which may be unavoidable during a disaster. The cost of rectifying the violations, such as the costs associated with patient health information breaches, need to be planned for as much as possible.

5. Have you checked with each of your vendors to ensure they have their own disaster plan?

IT disaster plans are a mainstay of business now. But, a periodic review of other vendors, including supply vendors, is necessary. A recent incident that comes to mind that highlights the importance of this type of continuity in healthcare planning is the nationwide shortage of IV fluid that arose from the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico. The price of IV fluid went up 600%, forcing many hospitals to do without, and find other ways to dilute medications. In addition to anticipating other sources of supplies should it become necessary, it may also be wise to budget for increased supply cost due to shortages.

Although it is impossible to cover every possible crisis, considering the financial (as well as the logistical) consequences of a variety of situations should be a fundamental part of preparing to ensure continuity in healthcare. Examining as many business disaster example questions as possible, such as those above, can be a valuable part of any organization-wide business continuity initiative, and will help your hospital or practice be ready should a disaster occur.

About the Author



Infinx provides innovative and scalable payment lifecycle solutions for healthcare practices. Combining an intelligent, cloud-based platform driven by AI with our trained and certified coding and billing specialists, we help clients realize revenue, enabling them to shift focus from administrative details to billable patient care.

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