Healthcare provider organizations (HPOs) are feeling a greater sense of urgency to create a holistic, comprehensive, and integrated patient safety strategy. How did they get here? For one, the global pandemic and high-impact trends like value-based care have made their mark on the patient safety landscape and healthcare risk management.

The drive to improve value is top of mind for HPOs, as Medicare and other payers increasingly tie patient outcomes to financial penalties and incentives. The ramp-up to value-based care means HPOs will need to spend more time and resources measuring and improving patient safety indicators.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has driven up the cost and complexity of care, putting organizations at increased risk for patient safety incidents.

In this climate, forward-focused providers know the time is now to take a more proactive, integrated approach to managing patient safety incidents and claims. However, making this happen requires rethinking on how best to provide risk, safety, and quality teams with advanced tools and processes, including accurate, complete, and timely data to facilitate collaboration and break down information barriers during patient safety investigations.

Here are some considerations when mapping out your patient safety strategy:

Start With the Bigger Picture

Keeping patients safe takes more than a caring and attentive clinical team. A comprehensive patient safety strategy begins with a landscape view of your organization’s patient safety continuum. This big-picture look should span all departments and disciplines that touch all patient safety activities and incidents.

Having a single view of all the information and data related to a patient safety investigation is critical to connecting the dots, providing intelligent information that leads to decisive action, and reducing duplicative processes.

For many healthcare organizations, gathering patient safety data in one location has proved to be a challenge. Patient safety information and data often live in silos inside different technology systems across risk, safety, and quality.

For instance, initial reporting of a patient safety event, the patient complaint, and the medical malpractice case could all live in three different systems and require manual data extraction to develop a complete risk profile with key details of the cases.

Data silos can also cause challenges downstream. Too many IT systems hold separate but related risk management information, preventing patient safety teams from seeing the complete picture.

For example, when a faulty television in a patient’s room ultimately leads to the patient falling while walking to the dayroom to watch television, the incident will likely be captured in three separate systems: one that records the problematic tv and another, which handles the fall. And yet a third system may record environmental rounding information related to the fall.

Often these separate systems also capture invisible data that plays an indirect role in patient safety incidents (such as a shift change, staffing shortage, or policy change) but isn’t easily identifiable without the help of analytics.

These complex scenarios play out in myriad ways daily across HPOs, driven by technology systems that don’t communicate and time-consuming manual processes that rely on spreadsheets to piece everything together.

It’s no surprise when this setup leads to overload when an adverse patient event occurs. Faced with scattered data, organizations cannot quickly pull information together to see the complete picture of what is happening. Additionally, the minor details that don’t make it beyond the silo walls add up and lead to a broader information gap, significantly impacting the overall patient safety investigation.

Choose Technology That Makes Silo Walls Invisible

As noted, achieving the big-picture view of patient safety events while working with parallel workstreams across the patient safety continuum has been a significant hurdle for HPOs that use multiple technology systems and manual processes to make sense of very different data.

What’s the solution? A modern enterprise risk management (ERM) model is the best way to bring all patient safety pieces together. ERM integrates risk management across the HPO, helping all disciplines work together more efficiently. ERM doesn’t necessarily break down all silos, but instead, it recognizes that risks are connected. It allows data to travel back and forth between silos to surface meaningful relationships while aggregating and integrating risk, safety, and other operational and strategic information.

ERM aims to consolidate multiple systems into a single technology platform, simplifying workflows and allowing risk management and other disciplines to collaborate more effortlessly. It’s important to also note that ERM is not a separate risk management tool that coexists alongside other separate tools for patient safety, compliance, or patient experience. ERM is a single source of truth offering an enterprise view of risk, including patient safety.

With ERM, patient safety teams can see the big-picture view and respond accordingly. Actionable analytics also come into play, helping identify trends and potential risks early on, enabling quicker resolutions.

It’s clear that risk managers will continue to weather new patient safety situations as healthcare experiences tremendous disruption. Having a defined patient safety strategy that allows them to spend less effort putting puzzles pieces together and more time looking at the bigger picture will be critical to connecting with colleagues and solving problems.

For more on integrating risk and safety to improve patient safety, download our e-book, Integrated Risk Management, Why High-Performing Healthcare Organizations Are Taking the Leap, and learn more about Riskonnect’s solution for the Healthcare industry.