How long could you stay in business if you lost your phone service and the ability to communicate with patients? And if you could continue to function, what would be the short-term impact to cash flow and the long-term impact on the viability of your organization?
These are heavy questions. That’s why forward-thinking leaders make a disaster recovery plan. A key part of any disaster recovery plan focuses on maintaining communications with your patients and callers. Did you know that most leading medical answering services are also able to provide essential communication services to you in the event of an emergency? These include weather-related incidents, natural disasters, and man-made calamities.
Choose your disaster recovery communications provider with care. They’ll need to get it right the first time. In an emergency, there are no second chances to respond right. When considering someone to provide disaster recovery communications services, make sure they have the following essential elements:
Backup Power: We’ll start our list of essentials with backup power. During a disaster, utility power is often at its least reliable condition. That’s why a disaster recovery answering service must have the ability to provide their own emergency power when necessary.
Backup power comes in two forms. The first is short-term power protection to guard against voltage sags, brownouts, and brief outages. The first defense in this is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This keeps computer systems and servers running regardless of what havoc occurs with the power company. For long-term outages, a generator can provide power for several hours or even several days. Make sure they have both options.
Offsite Data Storage: Another critical element is the off-site storage of data and computer files. Usually these are real-time, cloud-based solutions that allow for quick backup and recovery if any data is lost. More importantly, offsite data backup is invaluable if your answering service needs to route calls to an alternate facility or an emergency backup location. Without off-site data storage, making a location switch takes time and presents a challenge.
Redundant Locations: Is your answering service a single-site operation, or do they have multiple interconnected locations? This is another essential concern. If they have only one location, then they have a single point of failure. This is unacceptable if you expect them to provide a reliable backup in the event of an emergency.
Multiple Service Providers: Next on our list of essential requirements is having multiple vendors for both telephone and internet access. That way, if one company is unable to provide service, the other ones can take over. This often happens quickly, and in most cases the answering service clients never know a problem occurred.
Emergency Backup Facility: The fifth element is an emergency backup facility. This may be at a fixed location, or it might be a mobile solution. Either way make sure your disaster recovery answering service has provisions in place in the unlikely event they need to completely relocate their office. This must be set up in advance if it is to have any value.
Detailed Contingency Plans: Just as you are considering a disaster recovery plan for your healthcare business, so too should your medical answering service have a disaster recovery plan for their operation. In addition to the above steps, it’s critical they map out their response for potential disasters. In the middle of a crisis is not the time to wing it.
Instead they need a detailed checklist of the steps to take, and the order to take them, for all likely emergencies. Beyond that, they need established guidelines if an emergency falls outside the list of anticipated problems.
This degree of planning may seem unnecessary, and everyone hopes it is. But if a disaster occurs, you’ll be glad to know they made the necessary preparations.
Planning for the unexpected is smart business. It’s a lot like buying an insurance policy. You hope you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it. Don’t put off making your disaster recovery plan. Start today, and begin by calling your medical answering service.
Learn more about disaster recovery support from MedConnectUSA and get a free quote to find out just how affordable their critical communication services are. Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.