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The American Medical Association in Chicago recently published a book — The Year 2000 Problem: Guidelines for Protecting Your Patients and Practice — that is full of practical information on preparing for the year 2000 (Y2K). Issues addressed in the book include the standard of care for Y2K-compliance programs, liability of corporate officers and directors, criminal liability, insurance coverage, medical equipment, payment and billing, and other areas of technology dependence.
The book includes an extensive compliance self-assessment checklist as well as sample formats for vendor inquiry letters and compliance warranties. Here are some practical tips from the book:
• At your next staff meeting, use the opportunity to discuss the impact of Y2K and how you plan to approach the problem. Distribute questionnaires to employees that request their input regarding the devices or equipment used in their particular areas. Encourage input from your staff.
• Due to the limited amount of time remaining, one key to a successful Y2K-compliance effort will be your practice’s ability to perform the various recommendations concurrently. Even while your inventory process is continuing, you should begin efforts to determine compliance and, if necessary, initiate remediation steps for those items designated as high priority.
• Prepare a letter to send to all of your technology equipment vendors. Outline your concern as to Y2K and ask them to respond with a description of how they are approaching the problem. The results will help you gauge which of these vendors is likely to let you down. Beware of those who don’t respond to the letter, or who ask you to define the problem.
• Meet with your office staff to discuss how you will communicate if you are unable to enter the building on the first day of the new century. Consider that you may need access to critical files for patients needing care and perhaps other documents as well. Discuss how you can set up a communications tree.
• The person or persons leading your practice’s Y2K-compliance efforts will have much to do in the upcoming months. As a result, and because they may not be the best individuals to create a contingency plan (the people who use the equipment or device will usually be the best), consider delegating this aspect of your practice’s compliance efforts.
[To order the American Medical Association’s book, The Year 2000 Problem: Guidelines for Protecting Your Patients and Practice, call customer service at (800) 622-8335. The price is $25 for members and $100 for nonmembers.]
The American Medical Association suggests you determine whether these items are Y2K-compliant: