Contingency Planning

Be prepared for the unexpected

Preparing for the unexpected is a critical aspect of running a business, and physicians have some unique situations to consider. 

All businesses in British Columbia are required by WorkSafeBC to have an emergency plan, and practices should strongly consider creating a business continuity plan as well. This will ensure you can recover critical elements of your practice, such as medical records, during unexpected disruptions. In addition to protecting your practice, you can develop a personal contingency plan for yourself in the event you are suddenly unable to work.

The following toolkit outlines the basic elements of emergency preparedness, business continuity, and personal contingency planning.  

Your plan objectives:  

  • To identify staff, patients, and other parties who need to be notified during an adverse event.
  • To create a plan to help avoid confusion during a crisis by documenting, testing, and reviewing response and recovery procedures.
  • To identify essential services to your business and ensure timely retrieval of critical records.
  • To ensure you and your business are prepared for the unexpected. 

Before you start:

Make a list of specific adverse events that pose a threat to your clinic such as fire, flood, power outage, facility damage, medical emergencies, extreme weather, prolonged absence, etc. 

Contingency planning toolkit
1.  Assembling your emergency kits
2.  Confirming your insurance coverage
  • Contact your current insurance provider to confirm you have adequate commercial insurance coverage. See more information about medical clinic insurance requirements here
  • If you do not have an insurance provider, you can get preferred rates to Westland Insurance* through Club MD. *Member login required.
  • To protect your records, keep a safety box that includes: 
    • insurance company contact
    • policy number
    • copy of policy 
    • photos/video of practice and inventory
    • any other important documents
  • Keep digital and physical copies of your policy off-site.
3.  Documenting office procedures and assigning key roles and responsibilities
  • Prepare a plan outlining specific actions required to address the situations you have identified as threats using the Office Procedures template. 
  • Assign specific roles and responsibilities to staff and identify alternates in case a lead role is unavailable. This list of key roles in disaster response can help you communicate your team's responsibilities. 
  • Group practices should have governance agreement that includes contingency planning. Solo practitioners should consider making an alliance with another solo practitioner.
4.  Creating contact lists and a communication plan
  • Create a staff contact list, which will include key roles and responsibilities, and indicate who will contact whom. Also create a list of all external suppliers and vendors who will need to be notified during and after an adverse event.
  • Plan for how critical information will be communicated to staff, patients, and other key contacts. Use the Staff Contact and Communication Plan template to start your contact lists and communication plan.
5.  Identifying essential services
  • Identify critical functions of your clinic (i.e., patient appointments/procedures, inputting medical records, etc.) and the essential services they depend on (i.e., receptionist, EMR, internet, electricity, water, etc.).
  • Consider how long your clinic could remain open without certain services, and list strategies to deal with the absence of those essential services using the  Essential Services template
  • To maintain continuity of care and business functions before, during, and after an EMR downtime event occurs, the EMR Downtime Contingency Plan Instructions can help you complete your EMR Downtime Contingency Plan.
6.  Completing a critical record inventory 
  • Use the Critical Records Inventory template to help you document where critical files and information are stored and consider how you will access them during and after an adverse event. Contact your EMR vendor to coordinate appropriate recovery procedures. If your records need to be converted to digital files, connect with MedRecords.
  • Use the Closing Practice resources to make a continuity plan for patient care and medical records in the event you are suddenly unable to practice.
7.  Implementing and regularly reviewing your plans
8.  Solidifying your personal contingency plans and estate

All fillable templates in the above toolkit can be found in one easy-to-download template package.

Information about the College's message on contingency planning for an unexpected office closure can be found here.

Has dealing with an adverse event affected your mental health? The Physician Health Program is available to support you.

Interested in COVID-19 specific information? See Doctors of BC’s Practice Toolkit here.

Emergency preparedness resources

Medical Clinic Preparedness Planning 

Divisions of Family Practice and Health Authorities

Evacuation Information

General Information

Natural disaster information

For your patients