Modelling the risks of extreme weather events for Australasian hospital infrastructure using rich picture diagrams

Anticipated increases in the frequency of extreme weather events in the future are likely to expose hospital infrastructure to new risks which are poorly understood. Traditional approaches to risk identification and analysis produce linear, narrow and static risk profiles which fail to consider complex sub-system interdependencies that may assist or hinder healthcare delivery during an extreme weather event. The ability to create resilient hospitals depends on new risk management methodologies which provide an understanding of these complex relationships. Focus groups with key stakeholders in three hospitals in Australia are used to construct rich picture diagrams (RPDs) of hospital infrastructure interdependencies under different extreme weather event scenarios. They show that the risks posed to hospitals by extreme weather events cannot be considered in isolation from the surrounding infrastructure, emergency management systems, health systems and communities in which they are imbedded. The new insights provided have major governance and policy implications for agencies responsible for ensuring that hospital infrastructure can continue to support the delivery of effective health services during extreme weather events.