Healthcare is Changing
For Patrick Turek, the System Director of Emergency Management at Hartford HealthCare, 2018 has been the busiest year he has experienced in his professional career. Within the span of just a few months, a car crashed into nearby Middlesex Hospital, there was a fire close to Windham Hospital, and two institutions lost regular power. When you’re the Director of Emergency Management of a hospital system, you know that what happens at one hospital impacts the rest. Turek says this is the crux of why Hartford Healthcare (HHC) made the move to Veoci: “5 or 10 years ago, successfully managing an incident at an acute care hospital would have been enough. Now, however, that emergency event transcends the rest of the healthcare system and can interrupt flow.”
“5 or 10 years ago, successfully managing an incident at an acute care hospital would have been enough. Now, however, that emergency event transcends the rest of the healthcare system and can interrupt flow.”
Healthcare is and has been undertaking massive changes over the past few years, including a move towards further systemization of hospitals, healthcare systems, and ambulatory services to create a coordinated system of care. As HHC grew and developed, the team recognized in 2016 that the time was right to integrate their services. In addition, a new CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule was set to go into effect in November 2016. As the HHC Emergency Management (EM) team planned for their future, Turek says they asked themselves, How can we keep emergency management standardized and efficient across the board?
Where it Began
Hartford Healthcare kicked off the initiative in February 2017 with more than 50 leaders across the healthcare system coming together to learn about each other, get a refresher on the basics of EM, take an audit of their current EM state and set goals for how they want it to look like down the line. The meeting was enlightening for Turek and his team. They found significant variations in program management, annual priorities, response structure, and training among the hospitals. The hospitals’ Emergency Operations Plans (EOP) were not aligned with one another. Turek says that when he and his team went looking for them, the plans were often tucked away in a dusty closet corner since the last exercise. In addition, there was no standard process for how entities should communicate with each other. Plus, everyone had their own ideas about how training should be done.
This all made sense — up until recently, each hospital had acted as its own separate entity with its own methods and best practices.
There was work to be done.
The Road to Coordinated Care
The EM team knew what needed to be fixed — now the question was how to actually start fixing. First, they looked towards authoritative standards set for all hospitals like Joint Commission Standards, CMS Standards, and OSHA. This provided a great baseline for how their EM plan should look. However, Turek says that they wanted to “innovate, to think differently and critically about how emergency management is delivered across a healthcare system.” So, HHC boiled down the foundational elements of emergency management into five key principles they called “The Five 1s,” which are as follows:
One Standard for Program Management
One Integrated Emergency Operations Plan
One Consistent Response Structure
One Emergency Notification System
One Standard for Training, Drills, and Exercises
Turek says that HHC has incorporated all five of these core principles into their Veoci solutions in order to meet their overarching goals of consistency and efficiency. Turek and his team look to Veoci as a tool to make the lives of those responsible for emergency management easier. He says, “If you increase the engagement and ease of use of the system, you build a more resilient healthcare system.”
Job Action Sheets, Incident Response Guides, Emergency Operation Plans, and any paperwork related to emergency management is now in one place in Veoci. “Everything’s in a place where people can find it, readily available and not hidden away in a closet. Veoci meets that need for us,” Turek said.
Each entity now has predefined Incident Management teams in Veoci that can convene at a press of a button. Everyone knows what role they’re playing and what they need to do. This is critical when building a Common Operating Picture with over 700 individual departments. When an emergency strikes, HHC needs to know where the departments stand and what their needs are. With Veoci, a full assessment of each department can be completed in 30 minutes to an hour. Meaning, the entity leadership team can get an up-to-date view of their institution.
“Everything’s in a place where people can find it, readily available and not hidden away in a closet. Veoci meets that need for us.”
Training and Exercises
Training is now much more standardized across the system, meaning everyone is on the same page if entities need to work together during a crisis. In addition, Turek and his team organize a system-wide exercise for the hospitals to get a real sense of how it would feel to work together during a crisis using Veoci. Leading up to this, there are entity-specific exercises that allow the EM team to pinpoint what worked well and what didn’t to better focus the larger exercise. Veoci allows the team to make data-driven decisions about their next steps.
Using Veoci to make their EOPs, Response Structure, and training standardized and efficient is just a portion of what Patrick Turek and the Emergency Management team over at Hartford Healthcare have done. If you’d like to learn more, reach out to receive the video recording of Patrick’s webinar or get a customized Veoci demo from one of our Solutions Team members!