When disasters happen — whether natural or man-made — communities look to healthcare facilities to for emergency response to mobilize resources, care for the ill and injured, and coordinate relief and recovery efforts, says the American Hospital Association (AHA).

In its “Prepared to Care” report, AHA analyzed published studies, data sets, interviews with healthcare professionals and hospital site visits, culminating with recommendations for hospitals to be ever-ready to care for their communities, particularly when crises hit.

In this post, we focus on two essentials argued by the report: implementation of a comprehensive disaster plan and the importance of a layered communications system.

Scenarios hospitals should consider as part of their emergency preparedness plan include the following, says the AHA:

  • Natural disasters
  • Chemical disasters
  • Epidemics
  • Biological disasters
  • Nuclear disasters
  • Explosive disasters
  • Criminal behavior
  • Other man-made disasters

As you plan for those scenarios, the World Health Organization cautions you to include detailed micro plans for emergency response in the following areas:

  • Command and Control
  • Communications
  • Safety and Security
  • Triage
  • Surge Capacity
  • Continuity of Essential Services
  • Human Resources
  • Logistics and Supply Management
  • Post-Disaster Recovery

That’s a lot to cover—more than we can manage in this post. So we’ll zoom into one factor that will make or break your emergency response: the speed with which you can deliver critical information to the people who need it.

We’re talking seconds, not minutes.

Immediate, effective emergency response is only possible when healthcare facilities can check off the boxes below:

  • Layered mass communications so no recipient misses critical alerts— no matter where they are, what they are doing, or what electronic devices they have next to them.
  • Varied communications formats not only to increase the reach of your message, but also to avoid disturbing patient recovery and satisfaction.
  • Manual processes are automated so staff attention isn’t diverted away from patient care, and emergency alerts don’t get delayed or botched.

What does that look like on a practical level?

Think pre-programmed messages you can disseminate instantly, with a tap or click, via mobile apps, phone calls, text messaging, digital signage, audio PA/intercom integration, and more.

The AHA report does acknowledge a significant obstacle to healthcare providers, however: shrinking funds for disaster readiness and response, even as crises and the demand for care grow. Health Facilities Management magazine offers a potential solution: adopting technology that can be integrated with existing systems to maximize their cost and operational effectiveness. A versatile software that “ plays well” with the technology you already have enables you to start small (and affordably), then layer in communications vehicles gradually, as funds become available.

We’re biased, of course, but the fact is we’ve earned a reputation for helping your peers achieve just that. We’d love to show you how.

Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to share lessons learned from working with other healthcare providers. You’ll walk away with actionable insights, whether or not we end up working together