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National strategy warns of emerging, diverse and evolving security threats to healthcare enterprises everywhere

By Michael Boardman, CEO, Readiness Associates


In an increasing, evolving threat environment, there’s no time to waste in preparing healthcare facilities in the U.S. for future disasters and emergencies.

That’s the sobering conclusion of the 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) recently released by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today, our nation faces a wide range of threats to national health security, including natural disasters; disease outbreaks and pandemics; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear emergencies; and cybersecurity vulnerabilities,” the NHSS states. “As health threats evolve, the way governments and stakeholders work together and carry out missions must evolve as well. Protecting Americans from 21st century health security threats takes a clear strategic direction and a host of strong partners.

“The 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) provides a vision to strengthen our nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies. It describes strategies to improve readiness and adapt operational capabilities to address new and evolving threats. By coordinating a whole-of-government approach that engages external partners and supports public health authorities and health care stakeholders, we can better safeguard the health and well-being of people across the country.”

Saving lives, protecting the nation

In its introduction, the NHSS speaks of the “diverse and evolving health security threats” to health systems that have the potential to cause injury and loss of life. It points out that, although progress had been made to address these threats, “to save lives and protect the nation from other 21st century risks, we—the collective group of stakeholders with responsibilities for national health security—must advance our preparedness and response capabilities to address the realities of our immediate and future threat landscape.”

Among the threats identified by the NHSS are natural and human-caused disasters, pandemic infectious diseases, and terrorist acts.

Health security cooperation

Health security, says the strategy, will depend on cooperation “among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and public and private partners, non-governmental organizations, academia, professional associations, communities, volunteers, families, and individuals.”

The strategy’s three health security objectives include: 1.) preparing, mobilizing, and coordinating a whole-of-government approach; 2.) protecting the nation from emerging and pandemic infectious diseases and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats; and 3.) leveraging the capabilities of the private sector.

The NHSS paints a stark picture of the dangers faced by the nation’s healthcare system.

Building a robust response to evolving threats

“Our nation faces real—and potentially imminent—health security threats,” the strategy states. “Threats are evolving every day, so we cannot wait to build a robust response. To safeguard the health and well-being of our people, the strategies outlined in the NHSS must be brought to bear swiftly and effectively. … We must strategically strengthen our partnerships with the aim of improving operational effectiveness and building needed capabilities.”

To provide those capabilities at home and abroad at a time of increasing disasters and emergencies, Readiness Associates (RA) is poised to join public and private partners, alike. RA offers solutions that help workplaces execute a well-designed plan for immediate response — anytime, anywhere.