Rave Mobile Safety (Rave), a trusted partner for safety software protecting millions of individuals, released key findings from its 2018 survey, Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends in Healthcare after polling hundreds of healthcare safety leaders across the United States.

The survey results, which will be revealed in a webinar on Thursday, October 25, examined the current and most pressing emergency concerns for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Specific building emergencies, such as fire drills, are priorities, but the responses from these professionals unearthed discrepancies about what emergencies and adverse events actually occur and the preparedness plans healthcare facilities have in place.

Safety issues faced by healthcare facilities

The three most pressing safety issues cited are severe weather (36 percent), active shooter incidents (34 percent), and cyberattacks (32 percent)"Hospitals and healthcare organisations greatly contribute to the well-being of others and emergency communications and preparedness are a very important part of their operations," said Todd Miller, COO of Rave Mobile Safety. "The healthcare industry is undergoing many changes. Mergers and acquisitions, as well as the decentralisation of hospitals and healthcare facilities into smaller outpatient and acute-care facilities, are changing how the healthcare industry operates. Healthcare professionals must think about how this will affect security and emergency preparedness across their organisations.

The Emergency Preparedness and Security Trends in Healthcare survey found that the daily emergency incidents healthcare organisations experience doesn't correspond to the biggest safety concerns respondents reported. The three most pressing safety issues cited are severe weather (36 percent), active shooter incidents (34 percent), and cyberattacks (32 percent). However, 93 percent did not experience an active shooter incident in the last two years. In fact, the most common day-to-day incidents they experience are system outages (54 percent), closely followed by weather-related events (53 percent).

Communication methods during emergencies

When it comes to fire drills, 60 percent of respondents conduct them every quarter, even though only 18 percent had a serious fire-related incident within the last two years. These drills are especially helpful to ensure a smooth approach to any actual emergency.

The survey reveals that email is the most commonly used channel for communication during a variety of situations 

"During the times of crisis, patients, employees and the larger community expect hospitals to maintain operations without any interruption," said Kevin McGinty, safety and emergency management coordinator at Middlesex Hospital in Middlesex, Conn. "An emergency communications process that operates smoothly, quickly and with minimal intervention is key. Maintaining a common operating picture, especially with geographically separate facilities, is critical during events."

Hospitals and healthcare facilities depend on fast and efficient communication methods during emergencies to keep their staff informed, as well as to communicate with patients, contractors and other visitors on-site. The survey reveals that email is the most commonly used channel for communication during a variety of situations, from workplace emergencies to finding shift coverage. Hospitals and healthcare facilities also use different methods of communication, including mass text messaging and phone tree/automated voicemail, when they connect with on-site employees.

Growth of healthcare facilities

However, communication methods vary widely when respondents share information with hospital visitors and travelling employees. Organisations mostly communicate with visitors using digital signage (64 percent), intercom communication systems/building alarms (29 percent), and email (19 percent). For travelling employees, such as those in a satellite clinic or a patient's home, only 51 percent of organisations are sharing information with them through text message and 49 percent through automated voicemails or phone trees.

Rave Mobile Safety's Miller will be joined by industry experts, McGinty and Turek, for a webinar to review the survey results"Healthcare systems are growing at an unprecedented rate and are expanding beyond hospital settings to include clinics, specialty facilities and administrative offices – something we haven't dealt with previously," said Patrick Turek, system director of emergency management at Hartford HealthCare in Hartford, Conn.

"We now have hundreds of different departments and a mobile workforce that is moving to various sites throughout our system. They expect that their emergency communications are uniform and on their device of choice, regardless of where they are located."

Lack of weather-related emergency testing

As serious weather-related incidents, such as hurricanes, tornados, flooding and wildfires, continue to rise, hospitals and healthcare facilities must have procedures in place to keep their communities safe. More than half of respondents said they experienced a serious weather incident within the last two years, yet 51 percent reported their facilities have gone over a year without testing their weather-related emergency plans. This is contrary to the recommended twice-a-year testing by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations.  

Rave Mobile Safety's Miller will be joined by industry experts, McGinty and Turek, for a webinar to review the survey results on Thursday, October 25. The discussion will also address why safety requirements in hospitals and healthcare facilities are unique compared to other industries, as well as the importance of implementing and testing security procedures throughout the year.

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