execs-windowWhen I made the transition from a program manager of a large Health System Emergency Management program to a Senior Leadership role, one of the main questions I got (and continue to get) is how do you get C-Suite buy-in and support of my Healthcare Emergency Management program? The most important thing to understand is it takes time and concerted action but you need to start with 4 things: ROI, Diversification, Ease, and Time.  Let me explain:

 Return On Investment (ROI): A basic concept of business and something every executive worth their salt values.  Every action/request made by an EM program should have an ROI, now it is typically not dollars, but it could be something as simple on decreasing organizational risk which may drive down insurance premiums for organizations that are not self-insured.  It is the responsibility of the EM Program Leader to succinctly and objectively describe the ROI.  A definitive ROI, even non-monetary, add validity in the eyes of the C-Suite. You can read more about the financial aspect of ROI via Investopedia.

Diversification: This may be the most counter-intuitive item especially since I am a champion on the importance of strong EM Program, but hang with me.  The more the Emergency Manager or program staff can integrate themselves with special events, major construction initiatives, the more valuable they will be in the eyes of leadership.  This can include participating in committees that may not be logically, but if they increase visibility and influence in the organization, then it is most likely worth your time. The bottom line is that healthcare can’t afford too many non-revenue generating one-trick ponies in today’s move towards value.

Ease:  Make it easy to participate. Regardless of whatever hazing ritual you may have experienced and how many painful classes you have undergone to get to where you are in Emergency Management, don’t extend that to your Leadership.  Schedule classes and trainings when it fits in their schedule and make sure you tailor the subject matter to them (or make sure your vendor does).  Spend a little extra time prepping your Incident Command staff before a high-profile exercise, remembering if they look good you look good.

Time:  This is probably most important of all, I thought I knew how packed a Senior Leader’s schedule was but it was actually worse.  The key thought here is that everyone wants their opinion, approval, buy-in, support, knowledge, etc. and that all takes time.  So be cognizant of their time and give them a lot of notice for big chunks of time, like exercises and training.  This also means avoid unannounced exercises, which I know brings up mixed feelings.  As to training, if the book says the class is 8 hours but you can get it done in 6, do it in 6 and let them know you did.  If you protect their time they will protect you.

Gaining buy-in and support from high functioning Senior Leaders is challenging and an ongoing process. Some would say that with the introduction of the new CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule, gaining buy-in is easier, but justification does not replace gaining support and enrollment.

If you start with these four focus areas in mind you will be much more successful.  We will share more about key tactics you can employ about gaining approval and increasing funding in future posts.

Are these focus areas right, or did we miss one?  Let us know in the comments below.


Crisis Focus, LLC has focused expertise in healthcare emergency management, including CMS compliance. Please visit Crisis Focus’ CMS Emergency Preparedness resource page or contact us for more information.