HIPAA Tip: Emergency Mode Tabletop Exercises

Tabletop exercises—simulated interactive exercises that test an organization’s emergency response procedures—are an essential aspect of emergency preparedness. It is critical in a healthcare environment to test readiness in the event of an emergency or disaster, either natural (fire, flood) or manmade (hacker, ransomware attack).

The first and foremost reason to be conducting a tabletop exercise is that it meets the criteria for compliance with HIPAA statute §164.308(a)(7)(ii)(D): Implement procedures for periodic testing and revision of contingency plans.

Tabletop exercises can be discussion-based sessions where team members meet in an informal, classroom setting to discuss their roles during an emergency and their responses to a particular emergency situation. A facilitator guides participants through a discussion of one or more scenarios. The duration of a tabletop exercise depends on the audience, the topic being exercised and the exercise objectives. Tabletop exercises can be used to identify weak points which need to be addressed so that in the event the scenario comes to life, responding individuals will be ready.

These exercises allow staff members or participants to test organizational plans or even hypothetical situations without causing disruption to daily operations and bring participating members together. Tabletop exercises provide training that would be necessary in the event of an emergency/disaster in a much less stressful situation with “learning by doing”.

Ready.gov – exercises

HIPAA compliance isn’t a one-time checklist. It’s ongoing, programmatic in nature, and requires demonstrated reasonable diligence to stay in good standing with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Anatomy IT. can provide you peace of mind with our expert HIPAA compliance services. To learn more, contact us here.

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