In June 2017 CMS published an interpretative guide for the Final Rule (81 FR 63860, Sept. 16, 2016) (Federal Register Vol. 81, No. 180).  which establishes national emergency preparedness requirements for participating providers and certified suppliers to plan adequately for both natural and man-made disasters.

The interpretative guide is available at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Survey-and-Cert-Letter-17-29.pdf

Part of this rule specifically requires planning for “Interruptions in communication”  and how healthcare organizations will “coordinate with other healthcare facilities, as well as the whole community during an emergency or disaster”.

Many healthcare organizations also required to create “policies and procedures to outline primary and alternate means for communication with external sources for assistance. For instance, primary methods may be considered via regular telephone services to contact transportation companies for evacuation or reporting evacuation needs to emergency officials; whereas alternate means account for the loss of power or telephone services in the local area. In this event, alternate means may include satellite phones for contacting evacuation assistance”.

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