HAP Blog

The Growing Challenges Facing Health Care Emergency Management Professionals

Join us for HAP’s Emergency Management Conference on October 10―11

August 31, 2023

Now, more than ever, hospitals and health care systems are realizing the value in proactive and comprehensive emergency management (EM) programs. We know health care systems can expect a more effective response and quicker recovery times when they prepare ahead, but this isn’t always our reality. 

Next month, the HAP EM team is hosting our annual Emergency Management Conference in Harrisburg on October 10–11, which will bring together member hospital EM and security professionals, administrators, clinicians, community response partners, and subject matter experts for two days of activities focusing on EM program management, workplace violence, infectious diseases, and cybersecurity. After more than three years of pandemic response, we know the value of this work, and I know it will pay dividends for your preparedness efforts.

It sometimes may be hard amid the busy health care environment to understand why we might expend valuable productivity time and effort toward preparing for something that may never happen. This is understandable; however, the current reality is telling us that rare events are not always so rare.

Violence, once relatively uncommon in our industry, is rapidly on the rise, and we must continue to prioritize the safety of our teams. Severe, once-in-100-year weather events are becoming more like once-in-10-year events, with hospital facilities being exposed to impacts they thought might never occur. The health care infrastructure, in previous times considered off limits to many "conscientious" hacker groups, has become a regular target of foreign threat actors looking to commit cyber-attacks against the United States. 

The effects of these events, especially if left unchecked, are compounding for hospitals. Direct impacts, such as injuries to staff from violence, damage to buildings and facilities, and loss of access to health records and revenue cycle data cause enough problems on their own. If that's not enough, hospitals suffer the indirect or secondary effects as well, such as recruitment and retention problems, depreciating value of the physical plant, and lawsuits related to protected health information security breaches.   

When these incidents occur—as they increasingly do—you will be thankful for the active preparedness and mitigation efforts you have in place. You could say that a comprehensive EM program is like having a good insurance policy, and it takes effective and engaged health care emergency management professionals to make it happen.

HAP's Emergency Management team works with our member hospital and health systems’ emergency management programs to support and assist their efforts to prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from emergency and disaster events. This is done through our weekly briefing updates, education and training opportunities, and working on-site with member EM staff as they conduct exercises, among other support.

As we continue to face significant challenges from unplanned and adverse events, emergency management needs to be an integral part of everyday administration and operations at hospitals and health systems across Pennsylvania and the nation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for additional details about this year’s EM conference or other ways we can support you.

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