Five Things Hospitals Should Know About Implementing Emergency Management Technology

Matt Icenroad

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Mar 15, 2023

For decades, hospitals and health systems have largely relied on manual reporting and face-to-face interaction to guide their emergency response. Emergency management teams gather in the physical command center to collect data — delivered by a runner from each unit — and map out their next steps.

A completely manual response is challenging, complex and time-consuming. For example, response actions and documentation may need to be varied depending on the Incident Management Team member roles. Also, response time increases while runners wait in the command center for data analysis to be completed and next steps to be identified. An additional challenge is that existing paper-based emergency response plans need to be located in the heat of the moment and it is doubtful they are up to date.

While some organizations still rely on these manual processes, others have embraced emergency management technology to help streamline processes, improve consistency of response, and aid in performance improvement. For some, the technology serves as a virtual command center when team members cannot physically convene on-site or the event restricts teams to do so. Others, however, use it as the primary system to inform, engage and activate their teams when disaster strikes.

What does it take to successfully implement emergency management technology?

  1. Utilizing a Dashboard: Remember those paper-based emergency response plans we mentioned earlier? It’s critical that these plans are easily accessible and kept up to date. An emergency management dashboard can manage everything from your Emergency Operations Plans to patient census, staffing, resources and other critical information – along with the ability to ask custom questions to capture the data that is most important at the time. Some emergency management technology provides tools for managing these plans real-time and seamlessly and displaying key information on the dashboard.
  2. Involve the Right Team Members: While engagement of the emergency management team is critical to the success of this onboarding process, C-Suite decision-makers need real-time data and reporting. Ensuring your emergency management technology is configured with the needs of both audiences is key.
  3. Rally Champions and Understand your Barriers: Champions are extremely helpful to successful onboarding, implementation and process improvement. Learning a new system takes time and having in-house experts will allow for faster adoption of the technology among team members and ensure effective onboarding of new users. Understanding any barriers, whether process, culture, or individuals is key in ensuring the project plan and program are geared to help overcome any challenges and rally additional support.
  4. Develop a Timeline: The development of an implementation plan and timeline will help keep your teams engaged and on track. Using emergency management technology brings tremendous value to Incident Management Teams, however, ensuring that technology is configured correctly and teams have a full understanding of its use is paramount in your organization’s success. For example, understanding and reporting bed count can be different at a macro level, such as from your organization out to community or government, than at a detailed one within your facility or organization. The unit reporting of support and resource needs of a pediatric unit vs. a medical surgical unit can be very different. Developing a timeline from initial implementation through exercises and continued use will help your organization succeed.
  5. Decide How to Use the Technology: Is emergency management technology a backup for times when the team can’t physically gather in the emergency operations center? Or is it the primary tool guiding your emergency response? While there isn’t a right or wrong answer, it is important to set expectations with team members. Many emergency management technologies, including ProtectAdvisr™, allow teams to access the systems remotely. So, if an emergency manager is offsite and can’t get to the facility for 30-60-minutes, they have an opportunity to review real-time data, assess the situation and make critical decisions before arriving at the hospital.

While implementing a new emergency management technology requires an investment of time and resources, ensuring the system is configured well, populated with up-to-date information and that team members are comfortable using the technology from day one is key to success. Ensuring your team can reap the benefits of activating a response in 30-minutes or less, that response is consistent and that data is actionable all require buy-in from the team and a commitment to the onboarding process.

ProtectAdvisr™ is a powerful emergency management and life safety software solution. It has been used in more than 3,000 emergency management activations and is trusted by the leading for-profit health system in the U.S. Learn more about how ProtectAdvisr™ can help strengthen your facility’s emergency management program.

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About the author

Matthew Icenroad
Matt joined Jensen Hughes in 2017 and serves clients out of the Baltimore/Washington DC area. He provides support for a wide-range of client consulting projects and leads the strategic vision and innovations of the Jensen Hughes Digital ProtectAdvisr application.