Recently, large storms have been tearing through the southeastern part of the U.S. Tornadoes have destroyed homes and businesses in their path, leaving survivors to pick up the pieces of their lives.
Being positioned in the heart of Moore, OK, the destruction left in the path of a natural disaster is an all too familiar scene to us here at Computer-Rx. Our office was destroyed in the May 3rd tornado, and many of our employees have been personally affected by severe weather since then.
To help you prepare for the worst, we’ve compiled a few things you need to keep in mind for your pharmacy disaster plan.
When severe weather strikes your business, many of the things lost can be replaced, computers, structure, and inventory will be covered by your insurance. However, pharmacy data cannot be replaced and if left unsecure could be a great risk to you and your patients’ privacy.
We recommend that every pharmacy back up their data nightly. This can be done on physical drives that can be removed from the pharmacy once a backup is complete. This is a very effective way to keep data secure (given that you backup regularly and no one loses the drive). However, many busy pharmacy professionals find the process of manual backup cumbersome.
Another way to protect and recover pharmacy data is an offsite, online backup. Your pharmacy software may offer such services (like WinRx Secure) or interface with companies (like NetRx) that can provide these services. The best part about offsite backups is after the initial backup the process is automated, requiring no participation from your staff.
Disaster Recovery Plan
So disaster has struck. Now what? What do you do first? What’s most important? There is so much to do it’s hard to know how to approach it. This is why a disaster recovery plan is so important. You have will have a document that you created in a clear state of mind, to guide you when you’re too upset and overwhelmed to think of proper procedure.
Your disaster recovery plan should contain a few key things:
- Contact information for all employees and your insurance company, wholesalers and other third-party partners, area emergency management centers, and your local DEA office.
- An up to date inventory of your entire pharmacy, not just your medications and OTC items. You should inventory your hardware and other equipment. Pictures will be very helpful for insurance purposes.
- Important pharmacy information, NABP, DEA, and NPI numbers. You know, all that really important information that distinguishes your pharmacy from others. You’ll want to make to have all that handy when you’re making the dozens of phone calls that follow disasters.
Emergency Mode Operation Plan
Now that you’ve made all these phone calls what do you do? You should have two emergency mode operations plans. One is used if the pharmacy is still partially operational. For example if computers are down, but your inventory and store is still mostly intact. The other is if the property is completely nonoperational.
Last year, at Idea exchange, I was able to talk to one of our pharmacy owners about his own experience with a disaster situation. Amazingly, he worked with a few pharmacies in the Joplin area to set up a makeshift pharmacy and serve the people of the area after they were tended to by triage centers in the area.
It’s important that you know what you’re going to do to continue to provide valued service to your patients who are also struggling with loss and destruction.
Whether it’s a natural disaster, a fire, or some other phenomenon that renders your pharmacy nonoperational, it’s important that you have a pharmacy disaster plan. Your patients rely on your business to fulfill their pharmacy needs and those needs don’t stop when disaster strikes.