Risk management across the enterprise


Risk management across the enterprise


Timely and secure access to actionable data via a mobile risk management system is now as important for a healthcare risk manager as it is for a treating physician, say David McElroy and Brian Stromberg of Riskonnect.

The healthcare industry is changing at breakneck pace, and it is moving away from a consumption-based model to one based on value. Hospitals are no longer being reimbursed for injuries that occur on their watch.

The industry continues to recognize the importance of data in improving patient outcomes by engaging different departments to keep patients and employees healthy and safe. But unifying datasets originating from business users with different organizational perspectives creates a unique challenge for healthcare risk managers, especially when considering the quantity of data generated by each department within a healthcare organization.

Medical professionals are using mobile workstations, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to log data into multiple systems. The smart watch has made its appearance on the market, and executives are already talking about the potential impact this new technology will have on risk management.

According to Jordi Posthumus, vice president of longevity trading at Hannover Re: “Wearable computing could be traditional underwriting’s kryptonite. If you look at what kryptonite did to Superman, yes … I think wearable computing could absolutely do that to traditional medical-based underwriting approaches.”

Healthcare risk managers increasingly rely on technology to help them keep up with the vast amount of data being generated by their users so they can continue to identify and address the unique risks faced by healthcare organizations.

The enterprise model breaks down traditional departmental silos and brings disparate units and datasets together for the common goal of ensuring a value-driven patient experience, keeping people safe and healthy, all the while saving money. But how does an organization actually get to that point?

The prescription

Board and executive management support is essential for ensuring the organization’s culture shifts from healthcare consumption to value-based healthcare. Communication is important, and ensuring every stakeholder has a seat at the table is necessary. But all the talk in the world isn’t enough without quality, meaningful data. Technology that unifies data for risk management is vital, but alone it isn’t enough if the different business units aren’t equally engaged in the end goal of moving to an enterprise model.

For healthcare risk managers, understanding the different roles involved in gathering risk data is fundamental. Getting these different departmental users to collaborate has proved challenging, not because of a lack of desire to collaborate, but because they have traditionally been kept in operational silos. Risk managers need the patient and employee feedback, near-miss records, incidents, claims, and the multitude of other risk-related data in order to obtain a holistic picture of organizational risk, and in order to understand how best to reduce risk for a value-based enterprise model. And, they need to be able quickly to understand how feedback and patient safety data relate to claims.

Advanced cloud-based software offerings are paving the way for healthcare risk managers by providing an intuitive, secure, and mobile platform to make sure each department has the same opportunity to report the data that is essential to their departmental goals for reducing risk, whether focused on saving lives, saving employees, or saving money.

"Communication is important, and ensuring every stakeholder has a seat at the table is necessary. But all the talk in the world isn’t enough without quality, meaningful data."

These risk management platforms are allowing risk managers to collaborate with quality, patient safety, and performance improvement staff to develop strategies  to reduce and prevent errors through data analysis. Healthcare risk managers are being invited to participate in more strategic discussions with the purpose of focusing risk management across the enterprise.

The importance of keeping each department engaged can’t be emphasised enough. Timely analysis about patient safety and how it ultimately affects an incident turning into a claim is invaluable for preventing and mitigating future claims. Technology is helping to keep the lines of communication open with integrated communication functionality.

Operational efficiencies

Riskonnect, the risk management software provider, offers Chatter on its healthcare risk management work platform. Chatter enables users to ‘@mention’ any other system user in a secure environment that encourages collaboration and transparency with client teams. Riskonnect’s security settings, which are easily maintained by the organization’s system administrators, are keeping records private when needed while still allowing cross-collaboration and escalation to supervisors.

Advanced social communication functionality, such as Chatter, is important for healthcare risk management. Chatter allows for secure collaboration within the confines of the risk management work platform on a specific event or claim, it lists entries in chronological order, and it is searchable. Most importantly, risk managers don’t need to worry about comments lost in someone’s email waiting to be discovered by a plaintiff’s attorney.

Keeping stakeholders engaged and informed is essential, and one of the ways to accomplish this is by removing administrative burden from staff so that they can focus on providing quality care to patients, or giving needed support to employees. The amount of time hospital workers spend entering and managing data is astounding. The Wall Street Journal reported that direct care workers spend more than 83% of their time entering paperwork, despite other research showing that patient outcomes and safety are improved when nurses are able to do what they do best—care for patients. Organizations responded to these troubling statistics with operational efficiencies that increased the amount of time nurses spend with their patients.

What about operational efficiencies for healthcare risk management? These can be gained through automated workflows. For example, advanced cloud-based risk management platforms can automatically escalate an issue based on predetermined criteria, ensuring that timely follow-up is given. Imagine how many ‘feedbacks’ from patients or employees could be saved from turning into incidents or claims if supervisors had been given an opportunity to follow up and intervene?

Imagine how much time and money could be saved if reporting processes were automated, removing the chance for human error or oversight? And, imagine how much more engaged departmental stakeholders would be if their focus were on the things they hold most important, such as patient care and positive outcomes, rather than filing more paperwork?

Healthcare providers are already using tablets and smartphones to diagnose and treat patients. Mobile computer stations for intake are now the norm in hospitals. It stands to follow that risk managers need to be able to keep up with the pace of healthcare operations. Just as a human body needs its various systems to work together for total health, a healthcare operation needs its technology, its internal processes, and its organizational goals to be in sync.

Being value-driven in this day and age means recognizing that the strategy, reporting, analysis, and implementation of risk management must happen at the pace of business. Mobile risk management is now a must-have for any organization to move to an enterprise model. Timely and secure access to actionable data is as important for a healthcare risk manager or patient safety advocate as it is for a treating physician.

As you take your organization’s risk management strategy to a value-driven enterprise model, make sure everyone is united on one risk management platform that keeps them engaged, informed, and in sync.

About David McElroy

David McElroy is director Healthcare Practice for RIskonnect. He previously worked at CS Stars as a system consultant and client executive. He joined Riskonnect in October 2012, and joined the Product Group in December 2013 where he is responsible for planning overall strategy and product development for the Healthcare Practice.

About Brian Stromberg

Brian Stromberg joins Riskonnect from Quantros, where he was a senior regional territory manager  from 2006 to 2014. In this position, he was responsible for selling patient safety, risk management, and quality improvement solutions to the healthcare market.  Prior to joining Quantros in 2006, he was a sales manager with the US Pharmacopeia from 1999 to 2006.

Rsikconnect, David McElroy, Brian Stromberg, Healthcare Risk, US