As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, continuous preparedness for various risks is critical for healthcare organizations. Indeed, similar disasters demand hospitals be constantly ready to help patients (Zeenny et al., 2020). Unpreparedness for emergencies may be caused by the lack of financial resources and a wrong vision among administrators (Zeenny et al., 2020). Still, inadequate foresight may persist due to insufficient knowledge and data in this area because hospital managers make plans and decisions based on the available information from research or other healthcare institutions (Shaffer, 2020). Therefore, attaining successful outcomes at times of crisis requires “a high level of continuous readiness,” which can be reached by appropriate planning (Shaffer, 2020, para. 2). A skilled team is also necessary for hospitals with good risk preparedness (Shaffer, 2020). However, not many clinical workers understand the importance of this topic. According to the 2016-2019 American College of Healthcare Executives survey, less than 1% of CEOs of health organizations viewed risk readiness as their primary concern (Shaffer, 2020). Continuous preparedness should always be prioritized in hospitals because, in this case, clinicians’ and patients’ lives may be at stake.
If healthcare workers do not engage in continuous readiness efforts, the consequences may be severe for individuals and organizations. For example, when the Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa in 2014-2016, the U.S. Department of Health decided to prepare hospitals to accept potentially infected travelers who returned to the country (Flinn et al., 2020). However, the Johns Hopkins Hospital biocontainment unit was unprepared for 60% of the study time because of dysfunctional autoclaves and understaffing during night shifts (Flinn et al., 2020). Fortunately, these violations were discovered before a potential disaster; thus, this healthcare institution had a chance to improve the situation.
When a crisis occurs, hospitals must relocate their resources to provide maximally effective patient care. Risk-based financing “involves an organization’s methods for efficiently and effectively funding loss that results from risk” (NEJM Catalyst, 2018, para. 19). The potential fraud temptations, in this case, include performing unnecessary procedures to generate insurance payments, charging for services that were not provided, upcoding, and falsifying diagnoses to justify useless interventions (Peck & McKenna, 2017). Therefore, creating an anti-fraud culture in hospitals is crucial to prevent such incidents.
Regulatory non-compliance in healthcare is a failure to follow established rules, leading to unpleasant outcomes. If hospitals systemically violate continuous readiness or other standards, the risk is paying 3.5 more than in the case of compliance (PowerDMS, 2020). However, the consequences are not only substantial financial fines but also lawsuits that may affect an organization’s reputation. Thus, hospitals should strive to comply with institutional standards and have continuous preparedness for potential risks. In fact, the latter is a “full-time effort,” demanding constant input of corporate knowledge and skills to improve the existing system and reveal its flaws (Stymiest, 2018, para. 1). Frequent surveys and checks are the potential ways to maintain organizational readiness.
In summary, the concept of continuous preparedness in healthcare is essential because if hospitals are not ready for crises, employees and patients may be affected. Although many clinical administrators do not seem to comprehend this term fully, health institutions still try to plan their budgets based on the principles of risk financing. However, there are possible temptations in risk-based funding that result in fraudulent behavior of healthcare providers; hence, maintaining the culture of transparency is critical. Finally, since non-compliance with institutional regulations may have severe consequences for hospitals, healthcare organizations should conduct frequent assessments to evaluate readiness for future problems.
Flinn, B. J., Benza, J. J., Sauer, L. M., Sulmonte, C., Hynes, N. A., & Garibaldi, B. T. (2020). The risk of not being ready: A novel approach to managing constant readiness of a high-level isolation unit during times of inactivity. Health Security, 18(3), 212–218.
NEJM Catalyst. (2018). What is risk management in healthcare? NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery.
Peck, S., & McKenna, L. (2017). Fraud in healthcare. Health Management, 17(2), 124-126.
PowerDMS. (2020). Consequences of non-compliance in healthcare.
Shaffer, J. (2020). From surge plans to a culture of readiness. American Nurse.
Stymiest, D.L. (2018). Tips to achieve continuous compliance readiness. Health Facilities Management.
Zeenny, R.M., Ramia, E., Akiki, Y., Hallit, S., & Salame, P. (2020). Assessing knowledge, attitude, practice, and preparedness of hospital pharmacists in Lebanon towards COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 13(54), 1-12.