Health Information Management

How does the emergency mode operation plan implementation specification differ from the disaster-recovery plan?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 28, 2004

An emergency mode operation plan is essentially the organization's business continuity plan. A business continuity plan is often used interchangeably or confused with the disaster-recovery plan, but there is a difference.

The emergency mode operation plan contains the procedures, methods, and processes to keep PHI protected and where it's needed during a crisis. This satisfies the PHI "availability" goal of the security rule.

The disaster-recovery plan details concerns restoring your information systems and healthcare operations to the state they were in before the disaster. Key components of a disaster-recovery plan include the following:

  • List of team members along with their contact information, roles, and responsibilities
  • Healthcare functions and information systems
  • Explanation of when and how the plan will be invoked
  • Specific recovery procedures
  • Internal and external communications plan
  • Emergency facilities for staff and information systems

Editor's note: This question was answered by Kevin Beaver, founder and principal consultant of Principle Logic, LLC, and coauthor of the book The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance by Auerbach Publications and author of the book Hacking For Dummies by John Wiley and Sons.

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