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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.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.
Communication plans are a part of downtime policies and procedures.
Planned downtime communication begins when or near the time dates for downtime are established.
The change control approval is generally the first notification distributed to key staff in IT and operations.
Scheduling planned or semi-planned downtimes for times of the day when the medical practice is closed or has low patient volumes reduces the impact on operations.
Reviewing application utilization reports helps determine the best time.