In this audio recording from the 2016 NACCHO Preparedness Summit in Dallas, Texas Emilie discusses how our Resilient Hospital Dashboard can be used to help hospital administrators and public health officials make informed decisions about how to adapt to the impacts of climate change on human health and hospital operations.
Follow along with Emilie’s talk in the slides below
A busy medical ward is the last place you want the lights to go out in the event of a hurricane, flood or extreme weather event. These are also the conditions that can drive surges of patients to emergency rooms for treatment at a rate that can quickly outpace the hospitals capacity to react. Climate change increases the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events and conditions – from asthma to vector diseases — likely to increase demand for healthcare. However, most hospitals have yet to integrate local climate change projections into their risk management and planning processes.
Working with a coalition of healthcare networks and non-profit Healthcare Without Harm, we developed an award-winning user-friendly dashboard for hospitals to better understand how climate change effects their operations and the patient population that they serve. This innovative application enables participating healthcare networks to integrate climate risk analytics into their hazard and vulnerability assessments, strategic communications and long-range planning.
The Resilient Hospital Dashboard is an interactive platform that enables healthcare networks to identify hotspots, key drivers of risk, and the specific local impacts faced by each of their hospitals. By using climate, socio-economic, public health and facility specific data, our dashboards analytics help hospitals understand the impact of climate change on their community and patients.
Our Resilient Hospital dashboard integrates local climate projections and applies healthcare indicators unique to each hospital’s situation to account for results specific to their populations. It provides hospitals with a cost-effective way to access and understand climate data relevant to their day-to-day operations and specific to the populations they serve.
In the same way that doctors and care providers use their expertise and medical knowledge to provide treatment that returns the best long-term health outcomes for their patients, our applications leverage climate and healthcare data to provide beneficial operational outcomes. It enables our clients to consider both the near and long-term impacts of climate change and expertise that can inspire actions that enable healthcare professionals and hospitals to operate when the need for their services is greatest.
Through the Resilient Hospital Dashboard we aim to tell a story about how hospitals can improve the bottom line, and do so by capturing the many individual stories of climate change. Behind every data point we use to identify risk and impact is a living, breathing patient admitted for treatment of heat stroke, asthma, or other environmental event.
Our data analytics and research shows that the people getting admitted for care are the most vulnerable among us. They include the young, the old, and the marginalized. While we originally set out to identify opportunities for hospitals to improve their operations — and our dashboard does that too, what we ultimately created is a data-driven, visual representation of the footprint climate change is leaving on society.
The trends we are seeing create a much-needed understanding of how climate change impacts communities. From this understanding we can find opportunities to act, and help doctors and care providers choose what actions can best support their planning process, enabling them to provide more consistent and higher quality of care, resilient to the operational shocks and stress of climate change.
The Resilient Hospital Dashboard was developed as part of our commitment to the White House Climate Data Initiative and won the CCBJ 2015 business achievement award. However, Four Twenty Seven no longer does this type of analysis for hospitals.
The healthcare sector is often the first to witness the impacts of poor air quality, extreme weather patterns and other climate related hazards that impact the health of their community. From heat waves to floods and exposure to rapidly spreading vector borne illnesses like malaria, lyme disease and more recently the Zika virus, the nexus of climate change and human health gets stronger every day.
We asked our director of research, Nik Steinberg, to present his work to inform the healthcare industry about the effects of climate change and the trends he is observing in how healthcare professionals approach climate change.
Last year we built a new decision-support tool for hospitals across the United States. The work was fascinating because it combined systems analysis, climate science, and epidemiology. We started by identifying all the projected climate hazards within a hospital’s service area and then we sorted out the characteristics of those hazards – their projected frequency, severity, and timing. From there, we determined if the hazard was likely to impact the hospital itself and/ or the health and safety of the community. Next, we attempted to co-locate the hazards with exposed populations and facility systems to get a better idea of which type of patients are most exposed to heat waves and poor air quality, and where those patients live.
Our work is quite novel because it transforms something that once might have felt uncertain and ambiguous for some healthcare professionals — climate change impacts — and places it in context of their local hospital, community, and the people they interact with everyday.
We have observed that resilience building in the public health sector starts with a willingness and capacity to change – for whatever reason that may be. Our tool facilitates the information gathering and lays the foundation for an impact assessment, giving health professionals a defensible starting point and powerful communication tool on the local impacts of climate change on their patients.
After our detailed research is complete, we step back and look for hotspots and correlations. Do future heat waves and poor air quality pose a considerable health risk to the community? Which patients are most exposed and where do they live? Is there a strong poverty-health connection in the community? How likely is it that heavy rainfall will become more severe over time and affect ambulatory services and hospital access?
These are the questions we try to address in our work so that hospitals can prioritize their resilience efforts and reach out to certain parts of the community or strengthen parts of the facility.
Many healthcare professionals are aware of these climate-related risks and their connection to the communities they serve, but this work helps outline the linkages that connect climate change and health at a local level and assigns real numbers to the expected impacts of that dynamic connection.
Human health has always been influenced by climate and weather, but the growing frequency of extremes like drought and flood and extreme temperatures generates a whole new set of challenges. Take, for example, the recent spread of the Zika virus and the drought-flood cycles that led up to heavy downpours across much of Brazil, leaving pools, puddles, and ponds for mosquito breeding, and allowing the Aedes spp. mosquito to surge across the country and eventually the rest of the Americas.
Unfortunately, changing rainfall patterns, like many climate impacts, tend to have a disproportionate effect on the vulnerable. A similar story can be told about oppressive heat. Global temperature increases also mean more severe extreme temperature, and recent heat waves in India, Russia, and even the U.S. hit the poor and outdoor laborers the hardest. Changing weather patterns and shifting climate zones will also expose new populations to these extremes.
Health effects are not always physical, and there is growing research showing the association between mental health and climate change. For illnesses like Lyme Disease or West Nile Virus, the mental health effects are very direct, but more often, the psychological responses to both disasters and acute ongoing impacts can induce a range of mental health consequences. I think the discussion around mental health and climate change will continue to grow as public health officials work to identify vulnerable populations and decipher the attribution of things like severe heat, poor air, and disasters to well-being.
There are positive trends, however, in the way researchers and public health officials are tracing vulnerability and identifying pathways of exposure. The body of research at the nexus of public health and climate change is growing, and one of the most promising outcomes of this work is the story it tells. From hospital directors to policymakers, decision-makers understand that our community’s health calls for aggressive action on the public health front to minimize and respond to a range of imminent new threats that were once uncertain or distant.
On October 3rd, the Obama administration declared a state of emergency in South Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, which dumped a foot and a half of rain in approximately 24 hours on the Carolinas, caused floods from New Jersey to Georgia and sunk cargo ship El Faro and its crew. While the Charleston and many other cities were battling the floods, with a cost estimated at over $1 billion, France was also experiencing unexpected flash floods near Nice, which caused 17 death. Landslides in Guatemala also claimed the lives of 186 people and were catalyzed by a strengthened El Nino. When considering each event in isolation, it may be possible to overlook the connection between the storms intensity and climate change. Together these extreme weather events are indicative of a larger trend; while we can’t predict where the next big storms will hit, we do know they are becoming more frequent and stronger.
These serve as yet another wakeup call to remind us that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and that our communities, cities and business need to be prepared for the stormy weather. But, as humans, do we require a crisis to mobilize us into action? Or can the same results be sparked through other methods without the loss of life, property and human well-being?
Climate scientists have warned for years of how climate change will increase the intensity of hurricanes, and the Southeast U.S. is a highly exposed region for such hurricanes. Yet many of us act as if the storm was always going to hit next door, and fail to apply our rational understanding of risk to better preparedness.
At Four Twenty Seven, we created Climate War Games to put executives and decision-makers into the context of the increasing risks presented by climate change. Gaming and simulation provide teachable moments, which we can apply to our real world behavior.
In game play, we assign the players to companies and task them with running their business while getting through a number of rounds in which they experience unpredictable extreme weather events. We break down uncertainty by type of event and their varying impacts to supply chains and infrastructure that can be damaged by extreme precipitation or temperature.
While the specific outcomes are unpredictable, because they hinge on a dice roll, the risk profile of each player’s hand is clearly laid out, so as to enable teams to understand their company’s risk profile and adopt the most cost-effective portfolio of adaptation measures. The winner is the company that earns the most profit – and limits its losses — that way, game play reflects the same challenges organizations face in the real world.
The game emulates the escalating risk of climate volatility and simulates through dice rolls the increasing likelihood of “black swan events” with low probability of occurrence, but high consequences and subsequent costs.
Players have to make the same tough choices they would in the real business world between saving or spending, and we see teams approach the choices in both creative and conventional ways. While there are different ways to play, the real value of the game comes from knowing that the risks actually create business opportunities, and acting through an informed strategy pays out over the long run. The game also helps participants reflect upon the potential human implications of their risk mitigation strategy.
Confronting the reality of what climate change is going to bring upon us can feel overwhelming at times. By providing a safe environment with clearly delineated risk profiles, and challenging players to make decisions and take action in a context of uncertainty, we help break down mental and cultural barriers to corporate adaptation, and set participants on track to build climate resilience. We do not know where the next storm will hit, but we can and should prepare to the best of our ability using climate science and probabilities.
Learn more about Climate War Games and our training courses offering here.
By: Sam Irvine
These maps combine projections from global climate models with socioeconomic indicators of heat vulnerability to compare the complex and interconnected components of heat risk and resilience by county in the U.S.
The maps can be used to discuss climate change impacts on public health with doctors, nurses and other professionals in the healthcare sector. Public health officials can focus on a county of interest and identify key drivers of vulnerability as a starting point for planning and evaluation. The maps can also be used to engage the community and help improve preparedness ahead of heat events in the short- and long-term.
The application contains five interactive maps. The first four maps let you explore the determinants of heat vulnerability that compose your county’s vulnerability to heat. The fifth map displays a new composite indicator developed by our team, the “Heat Vulnerability Score,” to help identify counties most vulnerable to negative health impacts due to extreme heat.
Explore the app here:
The methodology developed by Four Twenty Seven for this project and underlying data may be accessed here.
This application was developed as part of Four Twenty Seven’s commitment to the White House Climate Data Initiative, an ambitious effort that supports the development of data-driven planning tools to build resilience to climate change impacts in local communities. The tool has been peer-reviewed by CDC and NOAA, and is now featured on NOAA’s Climate Resilience Toolkit.
Climate change presents a multitude of new risks, challenges and opportunities for corporations and communities around the globe. Successfully preparing for and adapting to the climate impacts that are already set in motion – such as sea level rise, increases in extreme heat and more frequent and intense storms – will require strategic planning and action in the near term as well as ongoing monitoring and long term strategic development.
Yet as our understanding of global climate risks continues to grow, companies are struggling to measure, monitor and prepare for climate impacts that threaten global economic stability. The public sector has made great strides in developing conceptual frameworks, practical guidance and actionable tools to help practitioners. However, there is much less transparency regarding the current state of climate change risk management and adaptation planning in the private sector, which could discourage the development of best practices and stymie much needed collaboration between public and private stakeholders.
To help address this knowledge gap, Four Twenty Seven and the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN), with support from BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), present the 2015 Corporate Adaptation Survey. The goals of this survey were:
Key highlights from the survey include:
Download the full survey: 2015 Corporate Adaptation Survey
Download the flyer with key insights: Corporate Adaptation Survey Flyer
Four Twenty Seven (www.427mt.com) is an award-winning climate risk and adaptation consultancy dedicated to helping organizations understand and mitigate risks posed by climate change impacts. Its innovative tools and services blend economic modeling and climate science to deliver actionable intelligence and effective adaptation strategies. Four Twenty Seven’s supply chain application, developed in partnership with Climate Earth, is the first enterprise-quality application that enables large corporations to quickly map and quantify global supply chain risks due to climate change. It was awarded the 2014 Environmental Business Journal Award for Technology Merit in Climate Change Risk Management.
The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (www.nd-gain.org) is a practical solution to the world’s climate problem. It promotes adaptation by identifying the places most vulnerable to extreme weather and changing climate and identifying real-world solutions that can prevent these changes from becoming disasters. Its mission is to enhance the world’s understanding of the importance of adaptation and inform private and public investments in vulnerable communities. ND-GAIN is part of the Climate Change Adaptation Program of the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI), a Strategic Research Initiative focused on “science serving society,” and draws resources from across the campus.
BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) www.bsr.org is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration.
The impacts of climate change – heat waves, drought, heavy rains, flooding and rising sea levels– are already being felt in communities across California and the United States. These impacts present new challenges for local governments who are working to build resilience. In order to prepare for climate impacts, it’s crucial for communities to understand how flood vulnerability will impact the health of their specific populations.
In San Francisco, local flood inundation coupled with extreme storms is projected to have a direct impact on health outcomes in the city. The most likely health impacts related to flood include physical injuries, waterborne illnesses, respiratory illnesses, vector-borne disease, and food-borne illnesses. Disruption to city medical service, carbon monoxide poisoning, income loss, and mental health impacts caused or triggered by stress, isolation or anxiety are also part of the negative health impact picture.
Four Twenty Seven worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to develop an interactive story map that illustrates the results of their recent assessment of the health impacts of flood and extreme storms in the city. Our story map makes the connection between climate change and public health by enabling users to better understand the socio-demographic indicators that contribute to flood vulnerability.
Explore the App Here:
Users can explore which areas of San Francisco are most vulnerable to flooding and extreme storms as well as how resident’s quality of housing, pre-existing health conditions, and other indicators of social vulnerability contribute to flood risk. The final map in this series compiles all of these indicators into a flood vulnerability index that identifies which communities in San Francisco are most at risk from the health impacts of flood and extreme storms. These maps illustrate the importance of being able to identify and understand why some communities are more vulnerable than others to specific climate risks so that resources and planning efforts can be prioritized accordingly. The San Francisco Department of Public Health will use our story map to support their outreach and communications efforts as well as their work to coordinate planning and policy efforts to build resilience in San Francisco communities.
As you may already be aware, Four Twenty Seven was acquired by Moody’s Corporation in 2019 and officially became a part of Moody’s ESG Solutions Group in 2020.
Over the coming weeks, we will begin to retire the Four Twenty Seven brand name and replace it with Moody’s ESG Solutions. Our commitment to producing science-driven insights and analytics on climate risk remain the same and you can continue following our latest research at https://esg.moodys.io/climate-solutions.
Please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions. Thank you very much for your interest and valued support.