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Unless there are redundant systems in place, all practices with software applications and systems will most likely experience downtime; for instance, during routine maintenance or back-ups that are performed at established intervals, often on a daily, monthly, or quarterly basis.
Downtime may affect a single application or be systemwide.
The first session should occur when the system is being installed.
New employees should be trained on downtime procedures as part of their system training.
Semi-planned downtime includes software or hardware upgrades that the practice does not schedule itself, such as those scheduled by the vendor.
This may include patches that need to be applied quickly to avoid security vulnerability.
Communicate to staff in multiple formats for extended downtime, such as upgrades to the system.
All health IT systems will experience downtimes, whether planned or unplanned. The practice staff need a plan B—instructions that detail how they will operate until systems are available again.
Well-vetted and communicated policies and procedures keep practices running and their patient information intact. How well they get through the next hours or days will depend on whether they have clear instructions on what to do and whether they have ever done it before.
All users should receive refresher training on a regular basis.
Providing staff with answers to the following questions offers a template for announcing planned downtimes.