Healthcare organizations face constant risk of injury, loss, and lawsuits because of the nature of their business. Risks are present daily when dealing with sick patients and expensive equipment. In the face of these threats coming from every direction, it can be daunting for healthcare organizations to understand which risks are genuinely significant. However, there are risk management steps that can be taken to mitigate these risks and protect yourself from liability and financial loss. Implementing a comprehensive risk management program can help identify what risks are significant and provide options to manage them in the future.
What is Risk Management?
The first step in creating a risk management plan is to develop an understanding of what it entails. A risk management plan is a document that contains all of the steps necessary for managing risks within your business. Risk management is vital for every organization, but it becomes even more important in the healthcare industry, where lives are at stake. Risk management aims to identify all possible risks and prioritize them according to their likelihood of occurring or damaging results.
The Risk Management Steps
Risk management is an integral part of the healthcare industry and needs to be done right. Establishing these risk management steps in your organization’s approach will allow you to more efficiently identify, quantify, and account for the different risks that you may face.
Establish Context to Define Scope
Healthcare is a complex industry with many risks that can affect patients and staff. However, because of the departments’ diversity, the dangers they face will differ. The first step in managing these risks is establishing a context—what type of risk are we talking about? What specific situation do you want to address? For example, the doctors and patients in the emergency room will face different risks than those working behind the scenes in administrative positions. By establishing context, you can define the scope of your risk management process, ensuring that you’re identifying and evaluating risks properly.
In healthcare, many types of risks can affect your organization’s bottom line and reputation if not handled properly—from regulatory compliance to cybersecurity threats. However, not all risks will be faced by all departments. After defining the context for developing your plan, the next risk management step is to identify your business’s risks. This can be done in various ways:
- Interview Staff: By interviewing department heads, managers, or other healthcare staff, you can determine the risks they encounter most often.
- Review Reports: The healthcare industry is filled with reports from executives, specialized committees, faculty, and patients. Reviewing relevant reports can help give an overview of what risks have been observed.
- Track Patient Activity: From admission to discharge, tracking a patient’s experience throughout their stay will allow you to identify risks faced by patients.
These are just a few of the options you have to help with the risk identification stage. The important part is to identify the most common and impactful risks your organization faces.
After identifying your organization’s risks, another of the risk management steps to take is to analyze them. Performing a risk assessment is vital and should be done regularly, but it’s not always easy to integrate into your daily workflow. When assessing the risks, inquire about the likelihood of it happening and the damage that can be done if it is not mitigated. Doing a thorough risk assessment is essential because, without it, you can’t identify or analyze all acceptable risks in your organization or understand their potential impact on business operations and other stakeholders.
Now that you have identified the risks and assessed the potential damage they could cause, the next step is to evaluate them. Risks are analyzed in terms of probability and impact. The evaluation is based on individual risk factors such as size, criticality, and consequences, each rated on a scale of low, medium, or high. A risk can be low if it has a low probability or high if it has a high probability. A risk can also be low if the impact is minimal or high if the effect is significant. If a risk is identified to be high or medium, then mitigation strategies should be developed to address the risks.
Manage the Identified Risks
After identifying and evaluating risks, one of the last risk management steps is to take actions to manage risks. A variety of things can be done to mitigate the risks identified. First, consider if the problem can be fixed by implementing changes to policies or processes. If not, then you may need to implement new equipment or design changes to provide more protection against the risk at hand. Finally, it may be time for defensive strategies such as insurance coverage or backup plans that can reduce the severity of a potential disaster. However you choose, it’s crucial to develop a game plan for how to treat identified risks.
ComplianceBridge Helps Manage Risk
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a risk management program. Each healthcare organization will have its own risks and challenges, and the steps it takes might also be different. That said, there are some general risk management actions that should be taken in any risk management program. By developing an effective program that addresses these key components, a healthcare organization can take the first step toward reducing its risk of liability or damage. With the help of ComplianceBridge, you can ensure that your risk management plan is comprehensive and efficient.
ComplianceBridge’s unique engineering approach to risk management allows you to quickly identify risks that may lead to violations of patient privacy rules, data security requirements, and other laws affecting your healthcare organization. With ComplianceBridge, we provide you with the tools necessary to identify and tackle the risks your organization faces. With our software, you can design custom assessments and questionnaires with various question types like multiple choice, short answer, yes/no, or more. ComplianceBridge also allows you to weigh the questions, providing you with a better look at how the answers affect your business.
Are you ready to implement more than a standardized engineered approach to managing risks? Take the first step today and request a demo with ComplianceBridge.