The role of risk management in healthcare has come a long way over the years. But as risks to the healthcare industry multiply—both in number and costs—risk management and risk managers need to be at the forefront of the business. If not, healthcare organizations can’t thrive, or potentially even survive.
How healthcare risk management has evolved
Today’s healthcare organizations face challenges like the rapid advancement of technology, financial risk, evolving patient safety regulations, consolidation, aging facilities and infrastructures, and workforce shortages—giving risk managers at healthcare institutions just a “few” risks to address day in and day out.
This is a shift from the 1970s and 1980s, when risk managers were almost solely focused on clinical issues and minimizing damages from the abundance of medical malpractice and professional liability claims being filed during that time. Also problematic: They were essentially managing this single risk from their own isolated departments
And while isolated and unconnected risk management practices might have allowed healthcare organizations to survive the medical malpractice and professional liability storm 30 and 40 years ago, such practices are not sustainable in today’s tumultuous healthcare environment where risks are more diverse and complex than ever before.
That’s why today’s expanded risks in healthcare require risk management departments to expand their role within an organization. But doing so requires a broader approach to risk management, like Integrated Enterprise Risk Management.
How to move risk management to the top of the agenda
Integrated ERM brings all risks from across the enterprise together to determine how they interrelate — uncovering insights that have previously been hidden within individual silos. It focuses on organizational systems and processes; tends to be proactive in nature, rather than reactive; and hinges as much on value creation as it does risk mitigation.
The often-cited benefits of Integrated ERM within healthcare institutions include high quality patient care, compliance, proper investment, resilience and improved processes. Such benefits don’t come without work, though.
For starters, risk managers can complete an organization-wide risk assessment, taking into account the risk domains established by the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM). The risk domains include operational, human capital, technology, hazard, strategic, clinical/patient safety, legal/regulatory and financial risks.
From there, you will need to determine areas of focus that need improvement, which will necessitate access to data that can adequately highlight trouble spots or potential success stories—like declines in worker injuries or workers’ compensation costs.
That same data will be critical for getting buy-in up, down and across organizational ranks—one of the next steps in facilitating an Integrated ERM program and expanding the role of risk management at your healthcare organization.
Why risk management technology is a critical piece of the puzzle
Such data, and even collaboration among the variety of departments and stakeholders needed for effective Integrated ERM, are much easier to come by with the right tools and technology. Integrated risk management technology, in particular, can be of great assistance.
The right risk management technology can help healthcare organizations to holistically understand, manage and control risks. It will offer SaaS technology that automates processes, simplifies analysis and streamlines collaboration—facilitating true Integrated ERM in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.
More specifically, the right risk management technology will allow for the following capabilities:
- It pulls a wide range of patient safety, insurance and risk management data into a centralized and interactive system.
- Data input automatically triggers real-time analysis of a wide range of patient safety-, insurance-and risk-related information, as well as workflows and activities.
- It acts as both a repository for patient safety and risk-related data, and a launching pad for Integrated ERM activities.
- It standardizes data from varied sources into common formats that can “talk to each other”—spurring risk management activity or analysis.
- Mobile capabilities allow front lines of healthcare organizations to enter pertinent data with speed and ease.
All this will help healthcare organizations to better integrate their risks—allowing you to solve for any underlying issues causing multiple risks, as well as factor in the potential upsides of risks that could actually create value.