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Among the strategies published by the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the following advice about how to create a contingency plan, which is part of a paper written by Gwen Hughes, RHIA, a Belgrade, MT-based professional practice manager with AHIMA.
Here are some of AHIMA’s and Hughes’ suggestions for information that should be included in a contingency plan created for each plausible disaster:
1. The facility name.
2. The department name.
3. The contingency plan originator.
4. The date.
5. The major function being addressed, i.e., chart tracking/location, and provision.
6. The disaster being considered, i.e., hurricane or earthquake.
7. Some assumptions about the disaster, i.e., how will the disaster affect: utilities, staffing, and/or the ability of staff to report to work; security of health information; the facility itself; hardware and software; equipment and supplies; other departments; and patients presenting to the facility for treatment.
8. A description of the existing process used for the particular major function being addressed.
9. An if/then scenario, i.e., if this function is not performed, what will be the result?
10. Interdependencies, i.e., what other processes depend upon the provision of this information or service? On what information or services is this process dependent?
11. Solutions/alternatives, including steps that can be taken to minimize damage or disruption before the disaster, ensure stability, or provide for orderly recovery.
12. The limitations and benefits of each solution or alternative.
13. Activities that will need to be performed before the disaster in order to make this alternative possible, i.e., acquisition of equipment, implementation of back-up systems, development of disaster-related forms and materials, procedures, and staff training.
14. The names of the individuals responsible for performing these activities.
15. A list of individuals or departments with phone numbers who should be contacted or notified relative to the disaster and the implementation of this particular contingency plan.