From COVID-19 to Vandalism— How Cloud-Based Software Helped Protect This Practice During Disasters

If 2020 taught us anything, it is to prepare for everything. From a global pandemic to record-setting hurricanes and wildfires, the year saw it all. Not knowing how 2020 would have unfolded, one practice was glad they moved to Eyefinity Practice Management and Eyefinity EHR software. Learn more about how having a disaster plan in place and investing in cloud-based software not only saved the practice money and time but provided the practice owners some much-needed relief during a stressful year.  

Eye-Opening Experiences

Established 14 years ago by husband-wife duo, Dr. Holmberg and Dr. Patel, Arena Eye Care Optometry in California had experienced multiple disasters over the years that helped prepare them for what 2020 had in store.

A few years ago, Dr. Patel was filling in charts when she smelled smoke. At first, she wondered if it was another one of California’s intense wildfires, but when she heard her building’s fire alarm going off, she knew the flames were close. In fact, they were in her building. Although no one was hurt, there was damage and Dr. Patel’s practice was closed for weeks as she painstakingly dealt with insurance claims and construction crews.

“Imagine if our server would have been damaged— that would have been a nightmare! Not to mention the tremendous expenses we would have to incur on tech support to reinstate everything,” says Dr. Patel. “Not only did Eyefinity software help us maximize efficiency throughout, it also allowed us to get back on our feet in no time.”

Another time, Dr. Patel was away from her office and heard about the office building alarm going off early in the morning. It was because a truck crashed into their store front. “You never expect that will happen” recalls Dr. Patel. “I was shocked when I heard the news, but we were able to clean up very quickly and secure the store front the same day.”

Arena Eye Care Optometry has also experienced a few break-ins. While these instances did have financial costs, like replacing merchandise and repairing broken windows, they also left a far-reaching impact on Dr. Patel regarding the safety of staff, patients and sensitive patient data.

“Keeping our staff and patients secure has always been our primary concern during these incidents. I have thought about the ‘what ifs.’ What if our staff was injured or what if the damage to our practice was so severe that we could not physically access it for weeks or months?” worries Dr. Patel. “Thankfully we had just converted over to Eyefinity’s cloud-based software. All we needed was a computer and we were back to seeing patients in just a few hours!” She recalls her experience would have been extremely stressful had they not moved to a cloud-based solution.

“Some things shock you and you need to take a moment to collect yourself. You feel more weight coming down on your shoulders,” says Dr. Patel. “We’ve learned that having a mindset that you’ll get through it and remembering that everyone is looking to you as the leader is critical. You need to inspire confidence so the rest of your team follows your lead in staying calm and action-oriented.”

Learning from Tough Times

Each experience taught the owners something new and Dr. Patel admits she quickly learned that it’s better to be prepared for unforeseen situations than to regret it later. Her biggest takeaway has been to have a plan in place. Dr. Patel shares, “we have an evolving disaster checklist that contains the information of our emergency contacts, insurance and business policies. For example, our business policy is associated with the California Optometric Association which entails how we can keep our staff on payroll for months even if our practice is not open. This was such a huge relief to know because your staff and patients are the first concerns that come to mind when your practice is closed.”

Dr. Patel also learned the benefits of having access to data and the opportunity to practice telemedicine. During COVID-19 when practices were shut down, Dr. Patel and her staff were still able to provide care to their patients through Eyefinity’s telehealth capabilities. “Having your data in the cloud has multiple benefits,” says Dr. Patel. “In an unforeseeable event, if you are unable to work from your practice or you need to set up a pop-up clinic, you will have access to the data and can pick up where you left off. Eyefinity EHR software allowed my practice to stay connected to patients, access patient health information and conduct patient care via telemedicine during the pandemic.”

Dr. Patel also found ways to save time and money. Before implementing Eyefinity cloud-based software her husband, Dr. Holmberg, would have to stay late in the office to ensure system updates were complete, but now he saves that time while the updates take place automatically. “With a direct connection to VSP, Eyefinity has many tools to cut down on per-patient tasks and increase practice efficiency. Not only is using Eyefinity hassle-free, but it adds zero infrastructure costs for administration and therefore reduces IT costs. Additionally, there is no server installation required, which helps save time,” adds Dr. Patel.

In looking back, the most difficult part for Dr. Patel was the stress and sleepless nights that she and her husband had to endure during the times her practice was affected. Disasters can take many forms and the process of rebuilding afterwards can be overwhelming. Although Dr. Patel had a plan and all the information backed up, there was always a risk of losing data. “Thankfully, with Eyefinity that was one less thing I had to worry about,” says Dr. Patel.

“You don’t know what that stress is until it’s on you. I am grateful for the choices we made to be better prepared for any crisis,” says Dr. Patel. “I hope that my story reaches other practice owners— after all, we are all in this together.”

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