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Study Shows it Pays to be Prepared

Author: Benoit Stryckman, Health Economist, GAP Solutions, Inc. supporting the Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/12/2015 5:05:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; Innovations;

Governments, hospitals and other members of the public health community often wrestle with how to demonstrate the value of preparing for disasters. ASPR’s recent collaboration with a regional coalition in southeastern Pennsylvania provided a unique opportunity to measure the costs and benefits, and it resulted in one of the first economic evaluations applied to preparedness.

And, as it turns out, it truly does pay to be prepared.

Public and private public health organizations created the Surge Medical Assistance Response Team, or SMART, to address local disasters in southeast Pennsylvania. SMART is a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort that includes a wide variety of volunteers who augment surge capacity at hospitals and alternate care sites.

Working closely with SMART, we were able to evaluate both the cost of the resources they had available and the cost of responding to their local disasters in recent years. This regional response team produced positive returns on the region’s investment after only six years. The break-even point for each community would vary depending upon a number of factors.

We also studied innovative ways that regional emergency response teams could be funded. Some regional disaster response organizations across the country have relied on membership models to make up for decreases in public funding. We applied that model to SMART, and found that their model still worked. In their model, a 10 percent decline in public funding could be offset if each participating hospital paid $410 and each long-term care facility paid $148 in annual membership fees. Even if there was no public funding, hospitals would only pay $4,096 and long-term care facilities would pay $1,484 each year in membership fees. Through this membership structure, all of the entities that rely upon the regional response team for support would share a portion of its cost.

We concluded that not only can public health entities support regional response teams through membership fees, but also the model could attract private funding because of positive financial return on investment.

We outline several financial models that could be used and ways of measuring the value of preparedness in a paper published in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.

We don’t know when or where disaster will strike, and that makes it difficult to precisely measure the value of preparedness before disasters. However, the unique opportunity we recently had to evaluate the economics of a specific regional response program and the costs associated with its responses to recent disasters demonstrates that its value can be ascertained. Most importantly, what we learned is that preparedness pays off pretty quickly.

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Comments:

study shows it pays to be prepared

lawmakers will want to package the funding inside other, perhaps non-descript bundles of legislation. finding correct sponsors is key. good luck I support.
9/2/2015 8:26:59 AM

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