The previous Medicare/Medicaid emergency preparedness regulations lacked the necessary comprehensive approach to account for the complexities of emergency preparedness. In particular, the previous regulations did not address the need for:
- Communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states
- Contingency planning
- Training of personnel
As a condition of participation in Medicare and Medicaid, these health care providers must comply and implement all regulations within one year of the effective date, most likely by the end of 2017. Participating providers and suppliers must meet the following four common and well known industry best practice standards.
1. Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning: Based on a risk assessment, facilities must develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach, focusing on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters specific to the location of a provider or supplier. A risk assessment and subsequent response procedures may include, but are not limited to:
- Hazards likely in geographic area
- Care-related emergencies
- Equipment and Power failures
- Interruption in Communications, including cyberattacks
- Loss of all/portion of facility
- Loss of all/portion of supplies
- Plan is to be reviewed and updated at least annually
2. Communication Plan: Facilities must develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both Federal and State law. Patient care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems. The communication plan must:
- Comply with Federal and State laws
- Include a systematic process to contact staff, including patients’ physicians, and other necessary persons.
- Provide a well-coordinated communication plan within the facility, across health care providers, and with state and local public health departments and emergency management agencies.
3. Policies and Procedures: Facilities must develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment to comply with Federal and State laws.
4. Training and Testing: Facilities must develop and maintain training and exercises that comply with both Federal and State law. Patient care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems.
In order for health care facilities to remain compliant and evaluate and elevate preparedness levels, response plans must be tested for response readiness. A web-based exercise management system provides authorized users with secure access from a variety of locations. As facilities are added or modified, operations are revised, or employees are re-assigned, records can be conveniently added, accessed, transferred, or updated for accuracy and compliance. A comprehensive, web-based exercise management system will:
- Reduce the need for multiple site training management and documentation
- Minimize administrative costs
- Minimize training discrepancies across an enterprise
- Provide a historical record of training certifications
- Streamline training directives from one source
- Serve as a legal instrument, if necessary
- Engage management in prioritizing preparedness efforts
- Enhance reporting functionality
- Identify regulatory compliance training gaps
The path to preparedness and recovery is often complicated by abundant information, overlooked linked processes, and static plan formats. Managing several disparate systems and multiple paper files is cumbersome and time consuming, especially in the midst of an emergency situation. When health care companies with multiple sites utilize web-based tools and streamlined methods, preparedness and response planning management can be streamlined.