Doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners are no strangers to risk. Every day, they face contagious diseases, heal potentially fatal ailments and make treatment decisions that could very well be matters of life and death. The risk managers for hospitals are in charge of identifying areas that could cause harm to patients, visitors, or employees and trying to avoid as many issues as possible.
But what happens when an unfortunate event occurs? Is the risk manager able to see everything they need to make sure patient safety is improved and financial risk is minimized? Are they able to have detailed reporting to avoid future problems?
Of course, risk lies around every corner of the healthcare space, and it’s not limited to patient care. Administrative tasks present their own issues that could result in lost revenue or worse. Risk management in healthcare is a major priority, and these three problems should be at the top of any hospital’s to-do list:
For years, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has kept the healthcare industry in line when it comes to patient data management. HIPAA outlines exactly how medical information should be stored, transmitted and handled, as well as how hospital officials should respond in the event of a data breach.
Violating HIPAA guidelines is an extremely expensive proposition, regardless of whether that transgression is intentional or simply negligent. Penalties can reach as high as $1.5 million for truly egregious incidents.
Further complicating matters is the fact that healthcare-focused regulations like HIPAA are not necessarily static. Changes can be made from year to year that could affect an organization’s standing. Compliance teams need to spring into action to ensure every T is crossed and every I is dotted, but how can they be sure that everything is accounted for?
That’s where issue tracking software comes into the picture.
Issue tracking solutions allow compliance officers to assign tasks and monitor progress, flagging items that have gone unaddressed. It keeps your foot on the compliance pedal, so nothing slips through the cracks.
Minimize and insulate against malpractice cases
No discussion about risk management in healthcare would be complete without talking about malpractice. Often considered the bane of the industry, malpractice cases are a fact of life for healthcare practitioners and administrators. Although the number of paid claims have gone down in recent years, the average payout increased 23 percent between 1992 and 2014.
With stakes as high as they are in healthcare, malpractice cases will never be completely avoidable, but administrators can minimize their exposure by being cognizant of the risks in any treatment decision and taking proper precautions.
A complaint management solution allows for the capture of any incident, along with full visibility on the case and investigation. Multiple departments may be involved in the review and process, while reporting will need to be done for both internal and external auditors or legal counsel.
Creating a cultural change
Risk management doesn’t necessarily need to be an issue for the legal department or HR to sort out. Safeguarding yourself against all the different risks that could arise requires a more systemic change in the way your organization operates. You need to cultivate a positive, risk management-focused culture to keep workflows free of potentially damaging oversights and problems.
Proper complaint management processes, for instance, can bring to light lingering problems in a hospital that have gone unaddressed for far too long. Such issues may not necessarily be threats to patient care performance, although they can certainly be precisely that, but they may negatively impact the hospital’s reputation and patient experience. With sites like Medicare’s Hospital Compare available, patients are focusing more on a facility’s reputation, with bad reputations leading individuals to consider other facilities for non-emergency treatment.
Complaint and process management software like Issuetrak can help hospital administrators and risk management personnel stay on top of internal workflows and identify potential hiccups, resulting in stronger risk management performance across the board.