Late last year, the Department of Health & Human Services issued its 2017–2022 Healthcare Preparedness and Response Capabilities — newly revised guidelines for healthcare emergency response, specifically, how providers should prepare, respond and recover from disasters and emergency scenarios.
Three goals drive this new guidance:
- Ensure patients receive the care they need, when and where they need it during emergencies
- Minimize deaths, injuries, and illness resulting from emergencies
- Ensure healthcare delivery remains efficient in the aftermath of an emergency
This guidance applies to you if your organization provides or supports health services, including:
- Hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities
- Primary care providers
- Public health agencies
- Behavioral health services and organizations
- Childcare providers
- Schools and universities, including academic medical centers
- Nursing and long-term care facilities
- Social work services
- Support service providers (labs, pharmacies, radiology, blood banks, poison control centers)
- Local chapters of professional healthcare organizations
- Medical equipment/supply manufacturers and distributors
- Emergency management organizations
- Patient transport systems
- Federal facilities
- Home health agencies and community services
- Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Medical Reserve Service Corps (MRC)
- Cities, counties, parishes, townships, tribes
The guidance focuses on four main capabilities:
- Foundation for Healthcare and Medical Readiness
- Healthcare and Medical Response Coordination
- Continuity of Healthcare Service Delivery
- Medical Surge
Each of these capabilities come packed with descriptions and action steps. For the sake of brevity, we’ll zoom into the recommendations aligned with what our clients seek us for: emergency communications.
To that end, the report identifies the following action steps:
- Identify reliable, resilient, interoperable, and redundant information and communications systems and platforms, then provide access to stakeholders.
- Use these systems to coordinate both emergency and non-emergency communications on a regular basis to ensure familiarity.
- Maintain the ability to communicate with staff, the public, public safety, healthcare facilities, and more.
- Restore communications quickly during disruptions through alternate communications methods or vehicles.
“Sharing accurate and timely information is critical during an emergency,” the report states. “Healthcare organizations should have the ability to rapidly alert and notify their employees, patients, and visitors to update them on the situation, protect their health and safety, and facilitate provider-to-provider communication.”
Does your organization have those capabilities today?
Access the official, full report here.