The Joint Commission’s new emergency management guidelines: What they mean for your organization 

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, emergency management stands as a critical pillar to ensure patient safety and organizational resilience. To address this imperative, The Joint Commission, a renowned accrediting body, introduced new standards in July 2022 aimed at bolstering emergency preparedness in hospitals. The updates are not just about The Joint Commission’s standards, but also highlight how having an emergency management program is critical to the success of treating patients and communicating throughout emergency medical situations. Whether these situations are a pandemic like COVID-19, acts of terror, and natural disasters, planning and implementing emergency management standards should be viewed as a crucial organizational investment. We break down what these changes mean for your hospital and how having a clinical communication and collaboration platform offers a comprehensive solution for hospitals to navigate these requirements efficiently.   

Understanding The Joint Commission’s new emergency management standards 

The Joint Commission’s updated emergency management standards emphasize the need for hospitals to prioritize emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. The standards focus on comprehensive emergency operations planning, effective communication strategies, conducting regular drills and exercises, and improving coordination to ensure patient safety and organizational resilience during crises. 

Key emergency management changes and revisions 

The impact of a global pandemic, such as COVID-19, natural disasters, and other crises necessitate having emergency management standards in place. Emergency preparedness starts with being organized to ensure your organization provides the best care possible and that you can meet demand for medical services during these crisis scenarios. By helping healthcare organizations prepare for “all-hazard” emergencies, The Joint Commission’s emergency management standards equip hospital clinicians and staff to ensure they are prepared to receive patients when disaster strikes. 

When The Joint Commission updated emergency management standards in July 2022, it had already begun reviewing emergency standards and elements of performance in 2019. The existing emergency management chapter standards and elements of performance were deleted and replaced with new standards and supporting elements of performance. 

What do these changes and revisions mean for your hospital? Highlights include: 

  • Reducing the number of standards from 124 to 60 (for more cohesiveness) 
  • Creating specific requirements for leadership involvement and oversight in all aspects of the emergency management program 
  • Requiring hospitals to have a written continuity of operations plan (COOP) which must tie back into the emergency operations plan (EOP) 
  • Necessitating that hospitals have a disaster recovery plan, including strategies for when and how to conduct a damage assessment, restoration of critical systems and services, return to full operations, and addressing family reunification 

These changes are designed to provide an improved and more meaningful framework for a successful emergency management program in your organization. 

The role of a clinical communication platform in emergency management 

In an emergency, everything is time-sensitive. Therefore, emergency response time needs to be quick. Having a robust clinical communication and collaboration platform (CC&C) optimizes communication, streamlines workflows, and enhances emergency management in healthcare organizations. During an emergency, hospitals need to exchange secure messages, voice calls, and even conduct video consultations in real-time. A CC&C platform facilitates quick and effective communication during emergencies, ensuring that critical information is promptly shared among care teams. By offering secure channels for communication, you protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations. 

You should ensure that your hospital has a centralized directory as the one source of truth with staff details, including schedules and phone numbers. This streamlines communication processes and ensures that the pertinent information gets to the correct hospital staff quickly and efficiently in emergency situations Automated message escalation guarantees that crucial information reaches backup personnel in case of unavailability or escalations based on predetermined criteria. Furthermore, having a clinical communication and collaboration platform that integrates with your existing hospital systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs), nurse call systems, and alarm systems enables care teams to access critical patient information, receive and respond to alerts, and efficiently manage resources during emergencies. 

Contact the Spok team to learn more about how the Spok Care Connect® platform can help your hospital stay compliant and improve communication with The Joint Commission’s new emergency management standards and procedures. 

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