In the healthcare industry, it’s not enough to be prepared for everyday emergencies like accidents and illness. Today’s service providers must be ready to respond to situations, such as natural disasters and pandemics, that can easily exceed the day-to-day capacity and capability of established health and emergency response systems. This is where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and its 2017-2022 Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities guidance comes into play.

The guidance fully describes “what the health care delivery system, including health care coalitions (HCCs), hospitals, and emergency medical services (EMS), have to do to effectively prepare for and respond to emergencies that impact the public’s health.” In other words, it represents the “ideal state of readiness” in the United States. The guidance includes four key capabilities as explained below:

Capability #1 – Foundation for Health Care and Medical Readiness. The goal is that every community’s health care organization(s) and other stakeholders, coordinated through a sustainable HCC, have strong relationships; identify hazards and risks; and prioritize and address gaps through planning, training, exercising and managing resources.

Capability #2 – Health Care and Medical Response Coordination. The goal is for health care organizations, the HCC, their jurisdiction(s), and the Emergency Support Function-8 (ESF-8) lead agency to plan and collaborate for the sharing and analysis of information; manage