Episode 23: Natural Disasters and Emergency Preparedness: 3 key lessons (for deciding if you should close)

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Feb. 23, 2021

The recent ice storm and its devastating aftermath is a great reminder for why every medical practice (and actually any business) needs to have a plan for deciding whether to close in the context of a natural disaster.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August 2005, I had 7 providers and 30 staff members. At that time, I didn’t know what to anticipate nor did I have a well-designed plan. The good news is I learned some very valuable lessons and I’m going to share them with you.

Lesson 1: Identify the decision maker

And then, decide when the determination to close is going to be made and communicate that.
Lesson 2: Clearly communicate with your staff

Once you've made the decision, you need to have a communication plan

If everybody is still at work, here are some options:

  • You can have a 5 minute staff meeting where you communicate the plan.
  • You can send out an email.
  • You also want to know what each person's plan is so that you can plan accordingly. It’s hard to reopen if you have no staff or providers available.

If a decision whether to remain open or close is made after hours:

  • You need to have a list with every member of your staff’s contact information including cell phone number, home phone and email address.
  • Identify who is responsible for contacting providers and staff.
  • If there are more than a couple of people to contact, create a phone tree.

Lesson 3: Let your patients know the plan

If you are going to remain open, there are a number of ways you can let your patients know what’s happening.

  • Post on your website.
  • Use your social media channels to post notifications.
  • Change the auto attendant message on your phone to convey the information.
  • Use your patient reminder software to either call or text people with a status update.
  • Don’t be surprised if many of your patients cancel or no-show.

If the decision is to close your office, you will want to add some additional steps.

  • Set up a pre-recorded automated message using your patient reminder software.
  • The message should also instruct the patient on how their appointment is going to be rescheduled.
  • You need a written protocol for how to implement the deployment of this message.
    Notify your local radio and TV stations as well as the newspapers.
  • If you have an answering service, make sure you have a script with a clear set of instructions for patients so they can communicate with the patient without forwarding those calls on.
  • Equip whoever will be contacting patients with a clear script that includes how to handle questions about rescheduling and med refills.

Join my FB group, The Private Medical Practice Academy to be part of a community interested in starting, running and growing their private medical practices and leveraging them into multiple revenue streams.

If you would like to hear more tips on how to start, run and grow your practice and related medical businesses, please sign up for my newsletter at https://www.thepracticebuildingmd.com .

 

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