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Is your hospital’s management team prepared for an emergency?

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Crisis management advice from Ramon Pinero, vice president of services at BlackBerry AtHoc.

Technology is changing the way healthcare is delivered, from hospital staff coordination to clinical collaboration and first responder readiness.

According to NHS England there was a total workforce of more than 1 million employees across 223 trusts in the UK last year. This makes the necessity for effective employee management a difficult, complicated, and time-consuming job.

Effective resourcing is at the core of effective healthcare, and in a hospital setting, it’s more than a matter of convenience; directing medical professionals so they’re always where they’re most needed is frequently a matter of life and death.

Those in charge of employee schedules often spend an enormous amount of their time attempting to reach various staff members, and in an environment where seconds count, this is a huge problem. It is abundantly clear that in order for our healthcare system to thrive, something about the process needs to change.

When a crisis situation arises in any environment, such as a terrorist attack, a disease outbreak or a natural disaster, a hospital’s leadership team needs to communicate as quickly and efficiently as possible to take control of the situation. During emergencies, hospitals help hold communities together, so it’s vital to everyone that healthcare workers themselves stay safe and informed. A good crisis communications plan is essential, one that will account for every staff member and provide instructions on what to do next.

The following tips provide healthcare institutes with the guidance they need to manage and communicate effectively with the entire workforce during a crisis through a secure crisis communications tool.

Have real-time visibility into personnel safety

It is crucial that a hospital’s leadership team can account for all of their employees to achieve operational resiliency, facilitate an effective crisis response, and restore order in a healthcare environment—all of which are critical elements to avoid loss of life. This should be complemented by allowing emergency managers to request the status of individuals, select groups, or an entire populace and view the information on an at-a-glance dashboard to better understand the situation. To avoid confusion and ambiguity, employees can respond with pre-programmed messages.

Provide situational awareness

Having a solution in place that turns every person in the organisation into a sensor during a crisis situation is crucial. Acting as the eyes and ears on the scene, employees should be able to send rich, geo-tagged multimedia content (such as photos and videos) and real-time location updates from any device in the field. As employees navigate the scene, the crisis management tool should manage the flow of incoming information, apply rules, and send critical information directly to relevant teams for further action, giving the operations centre a full view of the situation while it’s in progress.

Deliver mass notifications

Leaders should be able to broadcast information updates to staff and external entities across a range of devices and communication channels, such as networked computers, phones, TV display boards, text messages, mobile devices, email, social media, indoor and outdoor speakers, land mobile radios, and XML feeds, using rich content like HTML, videos, evacuation routes, and links. Having pre-configured and customisable alert templates available will also speed up communications in emergency situations.

Peace of mind with immediate message notification acknowledgements

Alert recipients need to be able to respond and indicate receipt of a message along with their personal status via multiple options. Alerts should be tracked in real time with detailed delivery information for each recipient, and managers can compile reports from multiple sources, including individuals, call centres, and people responding on behalf of others. This helpful information allows managers to assess a response effort after the crisis has passed.

Enhance information sharing to facilitate a seamless emergency response

The crisis management team should invite external organisations that are relevant to the situation to collaborate on the response and drive as positive an outcome as possible. With a simplified workflow, an organisation won’t have to manage contact lists for external entities, which helps to ensure that communications are received.

When a crisis is at hand, time is of the essence, and this is never truer than within a hospital. Therefore, effective communication needs to be streamlined, intuitive, and as rapid as possible. It should also provide two-way communications with both outreach and response capabilities, so leaders can quickly assign tasks and receive feedback on the status of the situation.

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