When a natural disaster like a hurricane strikes or a health tragedy like the COVID-19 pandemic hits, the healthcare community can be shaken to its core. How quickly and effectively your organization recovers and becomes fully functional for patients comes down to how well you are prepared.
Benjamin Franklin probably didn’t have such catastrophic events in mind when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” but it’s as true today as it was over 200 years ago.
When it’s too late to properly prepare for what healthcare is going to face next, organizations like yours have to stop and assess the current post-disaster problems and the possible business continuity concerns.
Some of the post-disaster problems and concerns
In the chaos and rush accompanying a catastrophic event, systems can be exposed, personnel can be adversely affected, information and data can be left unprotected, and safety procedures can fall through the cracks. For the healthcare sector, post-disaster recovery can mean facing a dizzying array of complex business-and-life-threatening issues including:
- Staff burnout, shortages and exhaustion — Physician and other staff were already suffering from burnout before any crisis strikes, as we related in a previous post. They are frustrated by documentation, user interfaces and unfamiliar tasks. A crisis adds to those burnout issues with long hard hours treating so many added, life-and-death patients.
- Financial issues — A recent article in Revcycle Intelligence said that disasters like coronavirus have, “… a significant impact on the healthcare revenue cycle and provider finances… Several reports have surfaced of patients being left with thousands of dollars in medical bills after seeking care for potential coronavirus symptoms.” When patient can’t pay, it could lead to financial shortages for the healthcare providers.
- Cyber-criminal attacks — The large quantity of personal information on both patients and employees may be targeted, sold, or used in a variety of fraud schemes. In addition, billing information including credit card numbers and bank account information may be targeted. Plus, the systems themselves may be threatened by ransomware, hacktivists, or by other attackers that impact system availability.
- Depleted PPE and supplies — With the increasing number of patients come shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), like gowns, masks and gloves. Plus, there is also an increased need for ventilators, testing equipment and the like.
- Bouts of PTSD — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen in the aftermath of any traumatic experience, like your staff treating so many sick people during and after a disaster. PTSD can be even worse with huge numbers of fatalities, especially when family cannot say goodbye during contagion.
- Lack of finality — The duration of the global pandemic is still unsure, even though 2020 is nearly half over. It could continue to devastate your organization for weeks, months or even years. And, according to Medical News Today, “Most vaccines are still likely to be 12–18 months away from being available to the entire population, and this period is long enough to cause lasting social and economic damage if the lockdown persists.”
You need to have a plan in place for disasters
To solve these post-disaster issues and continue with the business of healthcare, the medical professionals and CIOs need to cooperate and collaborate on a Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plan. Having a plan in place makes it lot easier to step up during and after a natural disaster or pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with input from partners, has developed a checklist to help hospitals (acute care facilities) assess and improve their preparedness for responding to a community-wide outbreak of COVID-19 or a natural disaster.
The disaster plan should include:
- A structure for planning and decision making, including names of people on planning committee representing all affected departments.
- Development of a written plan.
- Elements of your plan should feature staff to monitor public advisories and general updates, create and disseminate internal and external communications, steps to procure medical supplies and equipment, visitor access plan, education and training, surge capacity needs, deal with business continuity issues and more.
A formal recovery plan is only the beginning.
You also must meet the challenges of recovering from a disaster
To be ready for a disaster, recover, and be up-and-running again, you may need to tap into added staff that is trained and prepared.
The solution is to turn to temporary outside consultants on an as-needed basis. These trained experts, including nurses, procurement and supply chain pros and operations specialists, can readily help supplement your staff or help train them for dealing with both emergency patients and regular hospital patients. Plus, outside consulting experts can help with your organization’s unique clinical workflow, configure your systems and finances to make them more user friendly…and even help you put together a ready disaster plan.
Turn to Blue Eagle Consulting to help fill in during and after a crisis
Our experts can analyze your current and rapidly approaching needs to best understand your pain points and objectives and help your organization discover appropriate and immediate staffing and training solutions in light natural or pandemic disasters.
We can add resources as soon as possible. We average only 3-10 business days to present a qualified candidate meeting your specific needs. Simply call us at 1 (866) 981-1095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.