Building Healthcare Resiliency

How prepared is the US healthcare system in the face of a disastrous event? According to a new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Healthcare Security, the US needs to take initiative to better prepare for a major disaster.

The Center recently published a study that examines the issues and risks posed to the country’s healthcare system. “A Framework for Healthcare Disaster Resilience: A View to the Future” also offers recommendations on how to improve resiliency for a range of disasters that the US could face.

The disasters are divided into four categories:

  • Small-scale mass injury/illness events (e.g. tornado, local epidemics, multiple shootings)
  • Large-scale natural disasters (e.g. hurricanes, moderates earthquakes, flooding)
  • Complex mass casualty events (e.g. mass shootings like Las Vegas and Orlando, bombings, outbreaks of lethal infectious disease)
  • Catastrophic health events (e.g. nuclear detonation, major earthquake, severe pandemic)

Each category presents a different challenge to an operational approach and resources.

An analysis by the authors determined that the US is only fairly well prepared for a small-scale event. The country is less prepared for large-scale and complex events, and it is unprepared for a catastrophic health disaster.

In their recommendations, the authors suggest a number of steps that the US can take to remedy the status of its healthcare system’s resiliency. One suggestion is to establish a network of specialized disaster resource hospitals. It would not only relieve local healthcare centers of resources, but also provide immediate medical expertise to complicated disaster-related injuries, including radiation and infectious diseases.

Another recommendation the authors propose is to promote a “culture of resilience,” especially at local levels. The idea is to integrate health and wellness in community development through civic organizations. It becomes the foundation for the health sector, community partners, and residents to focus on disaster preparedness and resilience in their locale.

Registered HSDL users can read the full analysis here. The report is also available on the Johns Hopkins website for the public.