How these seven hospital management tips could save your hospital
Written by Annie M.
Planning for a crisis is the best way to prepare for one before it occurs. In a hospital environment, unexpected situations can arise at any moment and become unpleasant in a matter of seconds. Whether it's a natural disaster or a personal tragedy, managing a crisis during a code red is a test for anyone who has an executive position in a hospital.
With that said, here are some crisis management techniques you should know about if you're the person everyone relies on when times get tough. It could mean the difference between success and disaster.
Establish a Communication Strategy
Your first point of emphasis should be to establish a communication plan without forgetting or overlooking anything that could fall through the cracks. Make sure you put together a crisis communications team that can relay any instructions outlined in your plan. This team should be made up of veteran communicators and senior executives who are trained in handling crises.
You can download guides at this website that provide more in-depth information that'll help guide you in establishing a proper communications strategy.Set Up a Crisis Threshold
Next, set up indicators that alert you that a crisis is on the horizon unless you take measures to avert it. Also, think about the negative ramifications the situation could result in to both your organization and the surrounding community. When establishing whether you've reached a crisis threshold, ask yourself these four questions.
- Is there potential for this to cause embarrassment to the hospital?
- Could this situation threaten the hospital's reputation and credibility as a responsible organization?
- Will the media show significant interest in this situation?
- Is there potential for the situation to cause harm or injury to hospital employees, patients, families, or anyone else in the surrounding community?
Make sure you identify which areas of the hospital are most vulnerable to threats by examining the worst case scenario and preparing for it. This all-hazards tool provides detailed information about not only areas of vulnerability within a hospital setting and how to limit them, but other helpful crisis management information.Maintain Updated Phone and Email Lists
This might seem like an obvious crisis management technique, but you wouldn't believe how many hospitals forget to maintain updated phone number and emails lists of all personnel. This is especially important of members of the crisis management team, senior executives, department managers, board members, emergency officials, and the media.
All lists should include primary phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure you regularly update this list as new staff are hired and old staff leave (or if contact information changes).Prepare Pre-approved Media Statements and Responses
While the increase in car and cycling accidents won't put the media on high alert, there are plenty of other unexpected events that warrant the media's attention. When these events occur, it's important that you're prepared to handle them while exhibiting professionalism and a sense of urgency. If your hospital is required to hold a press conference and make a public statement, keep the following points in mind.
- Make sure you have a hospital spokesperson who's trained in public relations and crisis management.
- Don't give the media a copy of your statement until the news conference is done.
- Update your website with the statement as the spokesperson begins to read it.
- Once published on the web, email the statement to all employees and include the website link in the email.
- Send identical emails to stakeholder groups.
- Make social media posts that link to the page on your website where you've published the statement.
Here is another great resource that provides more information on crisis management (and the media's role).Create a Culture of Prevention
Creating a culture of ownership is as important as anything else outlined in your crisis management plan. Employees should feel a personal responsibility to prevent crises on an everyday basis. The more your employees are aware of their actions and the actions of those around them, the better caution they can take to prevent a crisis.Keep Your Plan Updated
Last but not least, you'll want to adapt your plan as needed and keep it updated. Policies and personnel change frequently within the hospital setting, so it's important to remain vigilant in your crisis management efforts.
Do you hold a position in a hospital that relates to crisis management? How do you handle crises when they occur?
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined.
Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.
Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short.
Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.
It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.
It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.
For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.
The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.
Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.
Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.
Disconnected information systems
While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration.
A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.
By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.
Political influence and social equality
As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.
In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.
However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.
Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution.
The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.