Meeting CMS Requirements During Emergencies
With the rise in scenarios that affect the safety of employees and the flow of business operations, companies and organizations face an important question: How can you build resilient businesses and teams?
Natural disasters, active assailants and mental health crises are becoming more and more common and will, unfortunately, affect your corporation at some point. The key now is to create a business emergency response plan that is adequate and comprehensive enough to keep its employees safe before, during and after emergencies. To do so, organizations like yours must focus on planning, testing, and education.
One of the best ways to increase resilience within an organization is to create a clear communication and response plan. The best plans help employees understand what to do in a variety of scenarios — from cyber-attacks and power outages to severe weather, active assailants, mental health crises, lapses in technology or pandemics.
Business resilience means adapting to change and navigating disruptions, whether emergencies or non-emergencies. With better emergency planning and clear communication channels, leaders and employees can maintain business standards while keeping operations running smoothly.
Emergency Managers Foster Resiliency
To face challenges successfully — and to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of employees — organizations must have the proper emergency management processes in place. This includes systems that allow key stakeholders to make split-second decisions to protect employees and support business continuity.
Regardless of action plans, a resilient business would lay the groundwork of preparation to the best of its abilities while equipping its teams to handle anything that comes their way. Emergencies can be unpredictable, so their action plans must be adaptable.
To foster a resilient environment, typically, a business will elect an emergency management coordinator or work with a public information officer to create and prepare action plans and procedures for responding to emergencies. They are in charge of leading responses during and after emergencies while also working closely with safety personnel, elected officials and government agencies.
An emergency manager is responsible for delegating tasks and prioritizing actions. Therefore, having a firm grasp on procedures and working out communication plans with other employees, administrators and leadership are essential.
Using Technology to Improve Responses Times
Gone are the days of stacks of three-ring binders and the need to sift through paperwork to find plans and important information. This outdated process wastes precious time and makes it more difficult for emergency management coordinators to communicate what is happening to employees and emergency responders.
A resilient business in today’s world should have a comprehensive communication platform that is accessible in various forms. Your continuity plan should also extend into the aftermath of emergencies, helping leaders and employees navigate challenges left in their wake.
Without an effective mass communication platform, it is difficult for businesses to navigate a world of unknowns, especially as severe weather events, natural disasters, mental health issues and other emergencies continue to rise.
How to be Flexible While Staying Organized
Even with careful planning, emergencies are, by their very nature, unpredictable. Having flexibility in response methods — and properly training leaders, stakeholders, and employees on how to make split-second decisions — allows everyone to choose the safest next steps.
Traditional modes of emergency communication — intercoms, public address systems, email, social media, and instant messaging — may not work for today’s mobile workforce. What’s more, communications systems that only rely on one or two methods of communication will experience a gap in resilience. It is easy for employees to miss alerts when communication is limited.
Why are these individual modes of notification problematic? Employees who have silenced notifications on their desktop and mobile devices, or are not active on social media, may also miss electronic alerts. Plus, when severe weather strikes, it is not uncommon for server and network outages to occur, cutting off company operations and emails. Phone trees are also unreliable in the event of an outage or cyber-attack.
A multi-modal communications tool, on the other hand, would ensure that employees everywhere are alerted on time and that they never miss a notification.
Keep your Employees in the Loop
For emergency and non-emergency action plans to be successful, employees should not only be aware that they exist, but trained thoroughly to use them. Without this crucial information and training, employees won’t know how to protect themselves and others during critical situations, which reduces resiliency in the face of challenges.
Building a resilient workforce involves more than annual one-hour training. It involves:
- Surveying employees on-site and remotely about safety concerns
- Analyzing survey results with emergency managers, HR personnel, and other key stakeholders
- Conducting meetings and Q&A sessions to discuss business resilience efforts
- Training employees and leadership for evacuations, lockdown procedures and fires
- Providing an in-depth understanding of communication expectations during emergencies
- Testing employees with drills and mock scenarios
- Updating employees when updates are made to the emergency response plan
The biggest takeaway? A resilient workforce is one that understands emergency plans and knows how to use emergency communication channels. A resilient organization is one that knows how to leverage critical communication platforms to enable multi-modal alerts, two-way communications and more.
Rave helps Businesses Build Resiliency through Communication and Collaboration
Rave Mobile Safety provides critical communication and collaboration platforms to coordinate incident responses. With pre-set templates, tasks lists and multiple communication methods, businesses can equip their workforce with better safety measures in the workplace.
A critical communication and collaboration platform like Rave’s can minimize operational disruption before, during, and after events, ensuring each employee is informed, actionable and safe, whether working in an office or remotely. What’s more, this system can easily connect employees to emergency management coordinators and first responders, further decreasing reaction times and situational awareness.
Rave can also help emergency management coordinators and leadership instantly deliver the right messages to the right people through geo–polling and targeted messaging by location. This helps minimize panic for those who are unaffected and increases situational awareness for those in the direct line of impact.
Our system equips employers, emergency response teams, and key stakeholders to navigate planned events, crisis scenarios and critical non-emergency events by boosting emergency preparedness and response. Through timely and targeted communication, employees can be connected to the proper safety procedures in seconds.
With the right tools and the right support, your workforce will feel better prepared and more protected, allowing them to do their best work with less concern about unknowns.
The various safety programs established by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are intended to establish national emergency preparedness to promote advanced planning during emergencies of all levels. This includes both natural and man-made disasters. The intention is to cooperate with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency systems by providing streamlined safety procedures.
Healthcare facilities of all kinds must meet the communications standards set by CMS to comply with the law and ensure the safety and protection of all staff, volunteers, administration, and patients.
Communication Requirements for Healthcare Facilities
Emergency and communication systems must list action plans for a variety of emergency scenarios and resources and instructions for hospital and other healthcare facility staff. This includes annual testing of emergency systems for outpatient facilities and bi-annual testing for inpatient facilities.
Per CMS requirements, the following scenarios must be listed in emergency plans:
- Natural Disasters
From 2002 to 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence were four times more likely to occur in the healthcare industry than in any other industry. In 2019, there were 28 active shooter incidents that occurred in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.
As severe weather and natural disasters continue to rise, hospitals will need to brace themselves for emergency evacuations or shelter-in-place emergencies.
Contact information must be readily available for all staff, and the necessary personnel must be contacted promptly to ensure the continuation of patient care. For non-English speakers, support systems are not to be excluded.
Organizations must also establish a primary and alternate method of contact for their emergency preparedness officials.
Core EP Rule Elements
Medicare and Medicaid providers and suppliers must keep up with the New Emergency Preparedness (EP) Rule. The regulation outlines four core elements of emergency preparedness that must be applied to all 17 provider types, with slight variation between inpatient, outpatient, short-term care, and long-term care facilities.
Risk assessment and emergency planning
Hospitals and healthcare facilities must prepare their organizations by assessing possible risks and planning for a variety of emergencies. These action plans must be reviewed and updated annually. Situations include but are not limited to:
- Potential hazards in their geographic location, such as severe weather and natural disasters
- Care-related emergencies with patients
- Equipment and power failures
- Interruption in communications, including cyber-attacks and server outages
- Loss of all/portion of facility
- Loss of all/portion of supplies
- Workplace violence
Communication is one of the most important aspects of successful emergency management. Hospitals and healthcare facilities must comply with federal and state laws for all components of emergency communications. They must be well-coordinated within the facility and across all health care providers, state and local public health departments and emergency management agencies.
They must also have a system in place to contact all staff, which includes patients’ physicians or other necessary health and safety personnel.
Policies and procedures
Hospitals and healthcare facilities that are providing or supplying Medicare and Medicaid must comply with federal and state laws on all policies and procedures for all types of emergencies.
Training and testing
Hospital and healthcare staff must be trained and prepared for emergencies before they happen. Critical policies, procedures, and communications must be maintained and updated annually.
Every Second Counts
When communicating with hospital staff during emergencies, every second counts. While staff is focused on caring for patients, they do not have time to look at their phones during their shifts. When various challenges occur, hospital staff needs to know they will be looped in and updated often.
With a multimodal critical communications system, hospital and healthcare staff can quickly and accurately receive important alerts, whether they are on-site or on the road. Patients can also be assured their level of care will not be compromised during emergencies from staff scrambling to learn what is happening.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities need a communications tool that is able to send the right messages and the right time and quickly execute a plan of action.
How Rave Can Help Your Organization Meet These Requirements
Because of the time-sensitive nature of emergencies and the critical conditions of patients, hospitals need an emergency plan that is easy to access, easy to understand, and easy to implement.
Rave Collaborate ensures that every key stakeholder is involved in the emergency response planning and is equipped with critical resources when the unthinkable happens. Through our comprehensive platform, staff can quickly view tasks, action plans, and more to make the right decisions when it comes to safety.
Staff and administration can be assured that they will have the critical resources they need when emergencies such as an active assailant, medical outbreak, severe weather, power outages, supply chain issues, infrastructure issues, and even technological breakdowns occur.
Rave Collaborate pre-built templates can help emergency preparedness officials prepare for a wide range of emergencies and easily access important resources such as:
- Contacts made available through HR
- Automated communications and action plan assignments to ensure communications and action plans reach the right people
- Interactive incident dashboard to track communications, critical tasks and resources along with communication confirmation
- Targeted messaging by group, location, role and more through multi-modal communication abilities
- Communication in over 60+ languages
- Unlimited emergency messaging
This system gets the right resources to the right people, at the right time. Having a flexible yet actionable tool such as Rave Collaborate ensures no critical steps are missed during an emergency.
Make Compliance Easier Than Ever
No one knows exactly when an emergency will strike. Healthcare facilities must ensure they meet CMS requirements every day to bring the best possible care to their patients and protect their staff.