The healthcare industry has seen many changes in the past few decades. One key area is an increased reliance on technology for testing and treatment, as well as for management and support systems. And all this technology requires power to operate.
What happens when your practice, clinic, or healthcare facility loses power? At best, it’s hard to serve patients and address their medical concerns. At worse, it’s impossible to function at all.
We often take electricity for granted, until we don’t have it. Then we realize just how much we depend on it. In the same way that we discussed being prepared for winter storms, it’s equally critical to be prepared for the loss of utility power. Here are some key considerations.
Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)
An uninterruptible power supply is a battery-operated unit that provides A/C power to operate key equipment. Some facilities will have a large UPS system connected to key circuits in a building. As an alternative, you can deploy several small UPS systems throughout a facility to power specific pieces of equipment, such as computers, servers, and essential medical gear.
The benefit of having an UPS to power your office or clinic is that, as the name implies, it provides an uninterrupted source of power. This means systems won’t go down, and you won’t have to reset them. They will continue to operate as normal.
The downside of UPS systems is that eventually the batteries run down, and they’ll no longer provide needed power to operate the equipment plugged into them. As such, a UPS system is ideal for a short-term power interruption, but it’s inadequate for longer outages.
As an alternative, some facilities have an electrical generator that produces the power needed to run all key systems. The electrical generator produces the needed output power as long as it has fuel to run, usually natural gas but sometimes propane or even gasoline.
Generators are ideal for long-term outages. Often large ones are permanently installed to provide needed output for an entire building. However, the downside of generators is that it takes them a while to start and stabilize. This means everything connected to them will suffer a short-term power interruption, causing them to go down and reset. Then once the generator power comes on, the systems must reboot. This takes time, which can cause a problem.
UPS and Generator Combo
As an alternative, some organizations have both a UPS and a generator installed. The UPS handles the immediate power needs before the effect of the outage can impact systems. It handles things for the short-term, as the generator starts and stabilizes enough to produce a steady output. Then the generator takes over. Though having both systems is ideal, it’s also expensive.
Backup Power and Your Medical Answering Service?
First, know that any medical answering service that strives to provide consistent, always-available service has both a UPS and a generator installed to ensure their systems have all the power they need for continuous operations. Downtime isn’t acceptable, and they work hard to make sure it doesn’t occur.
Second, you should be aware of what type of power backup systems you have in your office or facility. Why is this important? Because almost all phone systems require power to operate. When you lose power, you lose your phone communications, too. This includes being able to forward your lines to your answering service.
Forwarding Your Phones When You Lose Power
How can you forward your phones to your answering service when you don’t have power to operate them? If you can’t answer your phones or forward your lines, callers will hear ringing, but no one will be able to answer them. That’s a problem.
Therefore, if you lose power, one of your key objectives is forwarding your lines to your answering service. If your phone system happens to have a UPS system, then forward your phones right away. Don’t try to take calls for as long as you can, because once battery power is gone you can’t forward your phone. (Of course, if you have a generator and the generator powers your phone system, then you can operate your phones as normal.)
But what happens if you have no UPS and your phones are dead? This presents a problem. However, some phone companies allow you to remotely activate call forwarding. This is something to check out ahead of time. Find out if it’s possible to do. Then practice the procedure. Next, document it so you’ll know exactly what to do when the time comes. That way, when you lose power, you can calmly forward your phones, and let your answering service handle your calls as you wait for the power to return.
Though we don’t want to think about it, it’s likely we’ll lose electricity at some time. Preparing to deal with it now will save a lot of frustration later. Your patients and callers will appreciate it.
Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.