data and systems,” he says. “If there is a critical application or system that needs to be running for an ASC to remain operational, productive and efficient, having a plan that ensures it is func- tional again quickly is essential.” Identifying your ASC’s critical applications and systems is the first step in understanding what to include in a business continuity plan, Mortell says. “You also want to take into con- sideration who needs access to these applications and how long the business can survive without these applications running. Then you can work with your IT team to build a reasonable plan.” Pend Oreille Surgery Center has

developed a business continuity plan that Sanchez refers to as a continuity of operations (COOP) plan. “We sat down and really thought about what we would need to do to continue our operations if we experienced an IT meltdown, emergency, cyberattack, our server going offline or another pre- dicament. Our COOP plan spells out

A disaster can be a single little issue that causes an IT system to go down, but the problem can become a lot more significant if there is no plan for how to operate around it.”

— Andrew LoPresti Physicians Endoscopy

the steps we would take to get our sys- tems back up and running.”

He says the plan also accounts for

how the ASC would function while offline. “We print charts every day for that day’s cases in case we are tem- porarily forced to fall back on using paper. We also store paper copies of all our forms in a binder.” If an outside vendor provides IT support to your ASC that includes business continuity and disaster recov-

ery services, understand the processes in place to protect and restore your data, LoPresti says. “Know which of your core systems and data are backed up, how often they are backed up and what will happen if data recovery is necessary,” he says. “This would include your expected level of on-site involvement in the res- toration process, which tends to vary from center to center, depending upon the level of technical expertise within the ASC. It is important to have at least a baseline knowledge of your busi- ness continuity plan and timeline for response, so you are not scrambling when disaster hits.”

Test Your Preparation Just developing a business continuity plan is not enough preparation for an IT disruption, Sanchez says. “Test your backups and go through the recovery motions so you are familiar with what to anticipate,” he says. “This will help ensure a more comfortable, less stressful response when something does happen.” LoPresti recommends such testing

of an ASC’s backups and plan occur on a routine, consistent basis. “This can be fairly easy to execute on ASC’s premise using test machines. If you use off-site services, request at least an annual mock drill where you simulate data loss and verify your ability to successfully restore data from the remote storage system.” These experiences should help bet- ter prepare your ASC for what is likely the inevitable, Mortell says. “Most disasters are not major. A disaster can be a single little issue that causes an IT system to go down, but the problem can become a lot more significant if there is no plan for how to operate around it.” Even a very basic plan can go a long

way, suggests LoPresti. “When the disaster strikes, you need to know who is calling the shots on steps to take and what applications you need to get up and running first. This will reduce the potential for chaos and help you effec- tively begin the road to recovery.”


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