Y2K contingency plan can keep you functioning

Now that Y2K is only a couple of months away, you need to determine what is likely to happen if a glitch occurs, and decide how you are going to handle it.

"Contingency planning for Y2K is the same as planning for a hurricane or a snowstorm. The only difference is that you won't be surprised when it happens," says Bruce Orgera, executive director of Superior Consultant Co. in Southfield, MI. You should be as detailed in developing your plan as you should have been when you did your first Y2K inventory, he adds.

If you've done a proper Y2K inventory, you should already have a list that identifies every piece of equipment and every process involved with running your office that could possibly malfunction as a result of the Y2K bug.

"There are not very many things that shouldn't be on that list," Orgera points out. To develop your plan, look at each potential failure and decide what will be required to correct it. Then rank them in order of importance.

Look at every possible scenario and determine everything that can fail and what you could do in that event. For example:

If the security locks on the door to your building won't function, do you know how to get into the building?

What do you do in case of an equipment failure? Can you borrow equipment? Can you share it with another practice in your building? Will you have to direct your patients to other locations?

If a patient can't get to you, how can you get to the patient? Can your area's emergency services support a crisis?

Look at the human interaction side of your practice as part of your contingency plan. If the practice manager or office manager typically runs things, you need to designate someone else to be the leader if that person can't get into the office. You might assign the person who lives nearest the office the role of opening the office and being in charge.

After your Y2K contingency plan is laid out, have a test emergency. "Like any other emergency — such as a fire drill — if you don't practice, you may have chaos," Orgera