Summer Preparedness – Preparing Your Practice

Business continuity leading up to and during an emergency is essential for your staff and patients. There are steps you can take now to prepare for situations that may your general practice.

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Plan ahead Remain informed During an emergency

Plan ahead

Update your emergency response documents and contact details
Make sure you emergency response documents are updated and correct. The Emergency Response Planning Tool (ERPT) is free to use for general practices in western Victoria until the end of 2023 (there will be a service cost from 1 January 2024). Also ensure that all your staff are familiar with the contents of your ERPT.

Register details of your clinic’s emergency contact people with Western Victoria Primary Health Network. This will ensure we can assist you in coordinating support with government agencies during an emergency. Submit the details via your Practice Facilitator or email qi@westvicphn.com.au


Protect files and data
Digital data

Ensure all your practice software is backed-up to reduce the risk of data loss. Ideally, the back-up files should be saved in a secure cloud storage server. This is also important if there is a power loss at the clinic and you need to access records off-site.  Note: storage of personal information by a third party server must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles.

Paper files

A copy of any important paper files or documents should be securely stored offsite in case building and/or contents damage due to an emergency or disaster.

See also


Plan  staffing
In advance, identify alternative models of work, locations for your clinic and equipment needs in the event of no or reduced access to your site and/or staff absences. The ERPT can guide you through the following considerations:

  • Is it safe for practitioners to work remotely from home? Explore if there are alternate health services or locations that they could work from.
  • Does the practice have a telehealth platform that practitioners can use remotely?
  • Are the practitioners set up with ePrescribing so patients can obtain scripts immediately and remotely? Ensure paper scripts/prescribing pads are also available in the event that no internet is available.
  • Does the practice have an alternate contact number, or can you temporarily divert your practice number, so patients can call if the building is closed, and the phone system is inaccessible?
  • Can admin and clinical staff access your practice management and clinical software systems off site to facilitate remote models of care?
  • Ensure clinicians can create pathology and imaging requests if working remotely.

For training in digital health platforms, contact the WVPHN Digital Health team: digitalhealth@westvicphn.com.au


Building and contents protection
Building and grounds

Prepare your clinic building and surrounds by removing excess rubbish, litter and leaves and keeping  grass short. For more details, see  Country Fire Authority | How to Prepare your Property  

Power outages

Consider alternate power sources in the event of power outages for cold chain management, or clinical record access. Identify locations for relocating vaccines and/or medicines or find out where to access a generator if needed.


Pack an emergency kit
The Victorian State Emergency Service advises emergency plans for both work and home should include creating an emergency kit. Your clinic’s emergency kit should include:

  • Torches in event of power outages and spare batteries
  • Important documents
  • N95 Masks for bushfire smoke
  • Contact lists for all staff and contractors
  • Burns kit
  • A mobile phone that may provide temporary internet access through mobile data hotspot
  • Eye wash kit
  • Respiratory medications such as bronchodilators and the necessary equipment to deliver those medications
  • Vulnerable population list of patients ready and handy
  • Hard copy radiology and pathology requests
  • Prescription pads
  • Water

Training exercises
Undertake training of mock incidents to ensure staff are competent and aware of their roles in the event of an emergency.

Remain informed

Subscribe to alerts and updates

Monitor emergency channels

Monitor  road closures

During an emergency

Communicate service closures or impacts
Inform Western Victoria Primary Health Network in the event of a service closure or impact: qi@westvicphn.com.au

Use social media, your website and other platforms to advise patients if your services are impact or unavailable.

Prepare a message or email patients using your appointment confirmation system, if needed.

Also consider sending other important alerts to patients such as for epidemic thunderstorm asthma.

 

Last modified: 28 November, 2023