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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

Hospitals Overwhelmed by Disasters-Again

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Once again, a major disaster struck multiple communities leaving emergency services, including hospitals overwhelmed. Parts of Maui are on fire and, unsurprisingly, people affected by smoke, ash, and other injuries overwhelmed emergency rooms. ICUs, wards, and entire floors may also fill with patients as clinicians struggle to help as many as humanly possible.

Why do these crises happen so often? Why aren’t communities better prepared? How can preparedness be improved? Natural and human-caused disasters occur frequently, but in separate places, which makes preparedness remarkably challenging. Resourcing emergency response organizations for infrequent catastrophes may seem reasonable but in practice, it is resource and cost prohibitive. No community or provider can afford to keep excess hospital capacity and staff ‘just in case.’ The nursing and clinician shortages also make this strategy untenable.

Maui's wildfires are the most recent catastrophes

to overwhelm hospitals and emergency services

A practical solution and strategy that has been used across industries is to develop operational elasticity, defined as the ability to dynamically increase point capacity to meet unexpectedly high demands for services. This model and strategy were tested by Israeli field hospitals providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees on Ukraine’s western borders. Field hospitals had to run with limited capacity and resources, so they turned to Biobeat’s Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), cloud services, and external clinical resources for help. Operational elasticity was demonstrated through collaborative support with clinicians, including specialists, working in Israel, over a thousand miles away.

We’ve been researching and developing frameworks to create and improve operational elasticity in hospitals and related emergency response and care delivery organizations. The good news is that solutions based on technologies like Biobeat’s RPM systems and support services are financially sustainable and easy to deploy. Covid was a wake-up call that illuminated the need for dynamically scalable care delivery. This latest disaster should prompt healthcare providers and emergency preparedness organizations to act without delay. Reach out to me for assistance and information on innovative operational elasticity frameworks, advanced patient monitoring, and practical cost-effective solutions.

Previous posts

I've published numerous posts on how innovative technologies can help providers dynamically expand hospital capacity. They reflect our efforts to help hospitals find and deploy practical, financially sustainable solutions. The following are among the most relevant posts.

Image references

Collage courtesy of Wikipedia, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Civil Air Patrol, Hawaii National Guard, and NASA Earth Observatory under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


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