5 Ways Hospitals Can Improve Crisis Management during Emergencies
Crisis management requires effective leadership. When a healthcare crisis arises, it is imperative to strike a balance between patient-centric care and limited resources when a healthcare crisis arises, making wise counsel and strong leadership even more important. In times like the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, healthcare providers often have to weigh what’s best for patients against what’s available overall.
The healthcare crisis management process is not limited to pandemics. It takes strong leadership, teamwork, and crisis communication to navigate a wide variety of disasters, including chemical spills, fires, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes.
In these situations, weak leadership can be detrimental. A recent study on healthcare crisis management found that overcrowding, a high occupancy rate, budget limitations, and staff shortages were threatening the quality of patient care. In the face of a crisis, researchers report that leadership can help healthcare teams handle these issues more proactively and improve the quality of treatment provided.
However, keeping your calm and composure during such hectic and bizarre times is quite hard indeed. Moreover, the added stress of managing everything during these healthcare administrators’ situations worsens the entire scenario. Therefore, to effectively handle such cases, hospital administrators must have an MBA program in healthcare administration. Only then can they overcome all odds and ensure quality healthcare for the patients.
So, today, we’re going to discuss different ways in ways using which crisis management in healthcare systems can be drastically improved. Let’s take a look at them:
Ways Healthcare Systems Can Improve Crisis Management
Leading during a healthcare crisis requires empathy, responsiveness, and sensitivity to the needs of a diverse population. Healthcare leadership during a crisis starts well before the event occurs – and it continues long afterward. Crisis management in healthcare should extend beyond providing support to those undergoing treatment. Those who provide that treatment should also be supported.
Make notifications and escalations automatic
A crisis comes without warning. Therefore, there’s no way the hospital administration or staff can know about it beforehand. Therefore, the first step in such situations is to alert the on-duty staff about the problem at hand, and doing this manually can prove to be quite a hassle.
In order to overcome these challenges, healthcare systems need to integrate automated call trees that send messages to any device, track responses, escalate when necessary, and log all the information for reporting and analysis. Using such systems, management can send notifications to all the staff within seconds, significantly reducing response time.
Forming a Crisis Management Team
Another effective way of overcoming any adverse situation is to prepare for it in advance, and creating a crisis management team is a prime example of it. An organization’s top priority should be establishing a unit for crisis management in advance, ideally before the crisis occurs. Representatives from the following departments should be part of the team:
- The executive management team
- Leaders in the department
- Marketers and communicators
- The Human Resources department
A crisis response team should be capable of communicating with all departments, analyzing problems, and proposing actions to deal with the crisis.
Provide training to all staff involved
As one piece of emergency response, technology is only effective when it’s utilized correctly by the appropriate staff members. For example, when a patient has an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, the deadliest form of heart attack, STEMI, is triggered. STEMI patients must be treated as quickly as possible because the heart muscle is progressively damaged with every minute that passes. According to the Joint Commission, percutaneous coronary intervention in cardiac Cath labs should take fewer than 90 minutes from patient presentation to balloon deployment. However, achieving this is only possible when your hospital staff has the proper training. Because of this reason, almost every healthcare system provides regular training to its staff so they are prepared in case of an emergency.
Creating a Disaster Plan
Healthcare leaders should plan for the worst-case scenario and address all facets of it. It is important for the group to agree on a set of processes for handling a crisis, but it should also be able to adjust to any unforeseen circumstances. These considerations should be addressed as part of the plan:
- Plan goals
- Information on how to contact staff
- Technical equipment requirements
- Recovery procedures
- Set-up plans for mobile devices
- A step-by-step guide to rebuilding
- Testing your plan
- Changing plans over time
Prepare for specific events by holding dress rehearsals
Emergencies and crises always arise unexpectedly; therefore, it’s always a good idea to prepare your staff for such situations beforehand. To explain it further, let’s look at a hospital in Ottawa. The Ottawa Hospital, on a Friday afternoon last January, received shocking news – a bus had struck a bus stop, injuring many people. In the event that the hospital declares a Code Orange, a massive, multi-pronged response is set in motion. Several clinicians had to be called back to the hospital to prepare for the sudden influx of trauma cases as the crash occurred just before the weekend when the hospital was reducing staff and closing operating rooms.
Fortunately, the hospital had practiced Code Orange response over the past five years, recently completing a simulation. As a result, the hospital was prepared when the situation arose. Staff was contacted using an automatic calling tree and everything was prepared instantly.
After receiving an emergency notification, The Ottawa Hospital contacted the appropriate personnel, set up eight trauma bays in the emergency room and six operating rooms, and were ready to treat patients as soon as they arrived.
In the case of a crisis, time management is most crucial. Navigating manual call trees or getting lost is not an option when every second counts. Therefore, leaders need to maintain their sanity and composure in the event of a crisis or an emergency.
Similarly, during an emergency, patient care has to be extraordinary. However, healthcare institutions can also face a shortage of resources to deal with the crises they face due to the high demands crises place on them. Therefore, assuring patients receive assistance while equipping medical personnel to deal with their stress is essential for effective healthcare crisis management.