What You Need to Know About EHR Downtime Preparation

ehr downtime

Does your staff know how to respond when they lose access to electronic health records (EHR)? EHR downtime means clinical staff must resort to using paper forms and charge slips, with many staff members forgetting where they store the paperwork and how to correctly fill them out. Prepare your hospital or medical office for unplanned EHR downtime to continue helping patients without access to their digital medical records.

Increase your medical office’s efficiency with medical billing and coding services by PracticeForces.

What Causes EHR Downtime?

Many emergency situations can cause unplanned downtime, including:

Power Outages

Planned or unplanned power outages can knock out the connection between a hospital and its EHR provider. Power outages may occur due to high winds, mechanical failures, or planned outages designed to preserve a city’s power.

Security Problems

Medical offices and hospitals can fall victim to cyber security attacks like worms, Trojan horses, and other viruses or malware. When these problems occur, many hospitals issue warnings against accessing digital medical records to prevent further vulnerabilities to malicious programs. 

Natural Disasters

During floods, tornadoes, or other natural disasters, many hospitals and medical offices experience EHR downtime due to downed power lines or other connectivity issues.

How to Prepare for EHR Downtime

Regardless of the reason for EHR downtime, staff should have a plan in place for how to handle medical operations like scheduling, procedures, and patient history maintenance. Follow these steps to create an effective system for your medical staff to follow during unplanned downtime:

Establish an Emergency Response Plan

Many hospitals have plans in place to ensure continuous patient care in case of certain emergency events, but ignoring EHR downtime results in confusion and improper medical care. Create a thorough plan for unplanned EHR downtime and train your staff on how to carry on operations without access to digital medical records.

Run EHR Downtime Drills

Schedule drills to test your staff’s emergency preparedness for unplanned downtime. Each staff member should know the location of each kind of paper form and how to fill them out properly, ensuring that patients receive the same level of care regardless of EHR access.

Assess Drill Responses

After completing each drill, evaluate how staff members reacted and discover areas that need improvement. By fixing problems in your EHR downtime policy before an actual downtime event occurs, you can ensure that your staff stands ready for the next time they lose access to digital medical records.

Prepare Your Staff for Unplanned EHR Downtime to Streamline Medical Operations

Arming your staff with a plan for EHR downtime helps you ensure that medical operations continue to run with few to no interruptions. Medical offices ranging from hospitals to pediatric offices should have a plan ready for possible EHR downtime, run regular drills, and assess each drill for areas of improvement. 

When your office suffers unplanned EHR downtime, quick responses from your IT team help you get back on track quickly. Call PracticeForces at (727) 499-0351 today to learn more about our EHR installation and support services.

Check out these tips on choosing an EHR for your medical practice.

Parul Garg, CEO and co-founder of PracticeForces, has significantly contributed to the growth of over 1,000 U.S. medical practices through her expertise in medical billing and coding since the company’s inception in 2003. With a background in Computer Science and an MBA in Human Resources, her leadership and AAPC-certified coding skills have been pivotal in managing the company’s operations effectively.

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