The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or ASPR, office recently shared a study published by the Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. that highlights the return on investment on establishing emergency preparedness programs at health care facilities. As a part of the study, a cost-benefit analysis was performed on the data of 17 real-world events the society responded to between 2008 and 2013.
The study ultimately concluded that:
This studies opens doors for hospital emergency managers to have concrete evidence to point to when making the case to executive decision makers on the importance of investing financial, technological and human resources in order to engage in programs that meet The Joint Commission requirements and ensures patient and hospital staff safety. However, additional data may need to be analyzed surrounding your specific region, health system and/or facility in order to convince the C-suite.
Taking aside the fact that this study focused on the data of regionally centralized emergency response model, analyzing the total cost of investment and its return is an extremely valuable undertaking. Benefits range from budget validation and augmentation to the identification of key areas that may need improvement. However, getting data to perform a cost-benefit analysis as an afterthought may be your biggest hurdle, if not entirely impossible. The goal should be to measure the cost and related/expected benefit early on, and it begins with understanding two key data inputs, the costs associated with on-going preparedness programs and the cost associated with incident response.
The bottom-line comes down to asking yourself, "What would be the cost to your hospital be without emergency preparedness?" Consider the negative impact of a prolonged recovery period during which your hospital may not be able to accept patients because it did not have a mitigation and response plan for loss of utilities and safety was compromised. What would be the affect of negative press if the hospital suffered an internal problem and was unable to operate for several days to weeks because there was no efficient way to handle an internal disaster? The goal of emergency management is business continuity, to mitigate the risk through extensive planning for quick response and recovery in a way that minimizes loss, maintains quality and restores operational balance for a hospital.