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Crafting a robust internet contingency plan for downtime challenges in healthcare


Doctor rubs face in front of computer | © DC Studio - stock.adobe.com

© DC Studio - stock.adobe.com

Technology plays a vital role in healthcare, and it’s impossible to underline the benefits without touting the fantastic things that can be done digitally for your practice. With an increasing reliance on the internet and its benefits, clinics need to pay ever-increasing focus to the functionality of their internet to stay effective and deliver quality care.

Internet downtime could affect your practice monumentally, and without an internet contingency plan, you’re leaving your practice susceptible to an array of challenges.

What is an internet contingency plan?

First, it's necessary to define a contingency plan for your business; contingency plans and disaster recovery plans are essential to business continuity. They represent the parameters and steps your brand should take to deal with an adverse situation.

An internet contingency plan is the steps implemented in case of a power outage, website downtime, or any other issue that could affect your operations and services. This could be offering services offline, having a backup provider, or providing your staff with customer service training to handle disgruntled patients.

You may ask, "Why should I care if my internet goes down?" Here are the top three reasons you may need a contingency plan:

Ensuring uninterrupted patient care and safety

According to a recent study, 67% of patients prefer online booking, with many booking after hours. Even if this hasn't been implemented fully into your clinic, some patients may choose only to use the online method. Your clinic will likely have internet exposure, with the more successful clinics offering larger booking platforms.

Without a contingency plan, there will undoubtedly be a disruption, or delay, in patients’ diagnoses, coordination, treatment, and care options. An internet contingency plan helps to avoid these issues that hinder your staff’s ability to access critical information and collaborate.

Establishing failover solutions, hotspots, and local servers can help you minimize the blowback from an influx of manual appointment settings and call-ins.

Safeguarding data security and privacy

Internet downtime is much more than just a hassle. Your clients may be angry, but there is minimal potential exposure from a cyber attack. Your patients’ information is highly confidential, especially regarding their healthcare. You’re at a greater risk of being subject to malicious actors during internet or server downtime.

An internet contingency plan should outline what happens when your site is hacked or compromised. Security protocols, such as offline backup systems, secure channels of communication, and even encryption protocols, should be included.

Communicating a contingency plan to your team and patients will increase their confidence in your practice and booking systems.

Minimizing financial losses and operational disruptions

Although appointment setting makes it much easier to generate revenue, it also leaves you open to financial losses and operational disruptions. Your patients prefer the ease of a quick method to schedule their next meeting with you but may not like to do so on the phone. In this case, they may not wish even to call your office to make an appointment.

Your team may also be unable to carry out proper operational conduct that would contribute to your revenue generation. For example, insurance claims, processing, and billing are primarily made on your internal systems, which will be severely affected.

A backup contingency plan and disaster recovery can enable your practice to function seamlessly and efficiently while keeping your revenue streams intact during difficult times.

Be prepared, plan ahead

If you haven't done so yet, take some time to sit down with your team and prepare a contingency plan for internet downtime and unusable uptime. This may take some time, but consider it an insurance policy and protocol so everyone is on the same page and acts accordingly.

Once you have a proper contingency plan, everyone will have the confidence necessary to face the challenges posed by internet downtime. This ensures that your operations, revenue streams, customer service, and security are relevant and competitive.

Greg Davis is the CEO of Bigleaf Networks, a leading provider of network optimization solutions. Davis has a record of scaling businesses through revenue growth, operations, and strategic acquisitions. He has 25+ years of tech leadership, leading start-ups to $100M+ in annual revenue. He has been on the board of directors for Bigleaf Networks since 2020.

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