Do we have enough supplies for patients and staff? What will our financials look like? Is our crisis response working? These are questions many organizations are asking themselves as they go through this unprecedented time. As healthcare organizations return to a “new normal,” they are continuously attempting to determine what their pathway to recovery will look like.
It is safe to say that things will not go back to what they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as a first step to recovery, organizations should start by creating an integrated phased demobilization plan and a supply chain resiliency plan, followed by after-action reporting. Following those steps, organizations should conduct a business impact analysis and update their business continuity plans. As we enter this new normal, here are five critical areas organizations should focus on to recover effectively and efficiently:
- Demobilization Planning: This is a structured method of restoring operations to meet an organization’s new normal state, including the possibility of another surge. Demobilization planning should incorporate an innovative and analytical approach to address the magnitude, complexity and risk of shifting the organization’s focus, energy and resources. Further, responding resources should be demobilized as soon as they are no longer needed for emergency response. However, given the likelihood of a resurgence, the demobilization plan should remain fluid and include areas such as contact tracing, viral therapeutics, availability for mass testing and vaccine development.
- The healthcare supply chain involves the flow of numerous product types from manufacturer to patient and requires the participation of various stakeholders who work in concert to achieve the goal of meeting patient care needs. Knowledge of the supply chain implications for public health-centric events can play a significant role in supply chain operations through the activation of programs. Vendors for commonly needed products during these events, including vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE), are often limited. Depending on the nature of the event, demand for these products can far exceed production capacity. Organizations should consider a supply chain resiliency plan to include pre-event, response, and recovery considerations for various components of their supply chain.
- After-Action Report: This report is a detailed critical summary or analysis of an event, created to reassess decisions and consider possible alternatives for future scenarios. Aggregating data and lessons learned for after-action reporting is a required and necessary step to capture best practices in the organization’s emergency preparedness plan. Incorporating lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether positive or negative, enables a healthcare organization to adapt to changing conditions and overcome future obstacles based on experiences of past incidents. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services require healthcare providers to complete after-action reporting as a condition of healthcare organizations receiving government reimbursement.
- Business Impact Analysis: This is a detailed study, by department, of all business processes within an organization and incorporates all the regulatory and legal requirements for each of the processes. Further, a business impact analysis report summary should be created as part of the overall analysis that outlines findings, the most critical processes, and the equipment, tools and staff required to ensure that these processes become active as soon as possible after disruption to keep the recovery process moving forward.
- Business Continuity Plan: A robust business continuity plan that addresses critical processes necessary for the organization to continue services is an ongoing effort that should be supported by senior management. It is crucial to approach the development and implementation of the business continuity plan with a multidisciplinary team that represents various departments and key stakeholders who will be tasked with identifying and prioritizing those critical processes that should be maintained after an incident. The business continuity plan highlights the organization’s commitment to continuity of business services during and after an incident and its commitment to plan maintenance, training and drills. It should utilize the results of an annual hazard vulnerability analysis of the facilities top five scenarios to identify key risks.
Applying best practices and innovative thinking secures the controlled, efficient and cost-effective release of resources and mitigates fiscal and legal risk. An early start to a recovery — even while the emergency is still in progress — secures the smoothest possible transition.