Risk Data Integration Elevates Healthcare ERM
Healthcare risk management starts with patient safety. No other industry holds responsibility over people’s quality of life quite like healthcare, where mistakes hold dire consequences for patients, families, providers and organizations.
But there are many more risks to consider beyond this critical area.
Governance and compliance risk, emergency preparedness and business continuity, vendor and supply chain risk and strategic risks don’t exist in isolation. They are all interconnected, and many can impact patient safety.
“Patient safety is the traditional entry point for risk management in healthcare,” said Jay Lechtman, Senior Director, Market Development & Strategy, Riskonnect, “but you also need to look at the whole picture to understand how your risks are connected.”
“Just as healthcare provider organizations adopted lean six sigma from manufacturing, safety checklists from aviation, and high-reliability organizations from nuclear energy and defense, they are now adopting enterprise risk management from other industries — such as financial services — as a best practice.”
But ERM doesn’t necessarily place risks in context, and can still be fragmented. To ensure a more holistic approach, risk managers need to practice it as integrated risk management.
What is Integrated Risk Management?
Integrated risk management calls for risk managers to see the connections between different areas of risk and find solutions that mitigate the total exposure.
In a primer for member boards and trustees, the American Society of Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) explains that organizations can start with an enterprise risk management approach and then make comparisons among its risks to see how they interact with one another and what cumulative impact they have on the organization.
“That elevated view of risk is integrated risk management,” Lechtman said. AHSRM has been making efforts since 2014 to educate healthcare organizations on integrated risk management and provide tools to develop the approach.
And most if not all of these efforts come back to improving patient safety.
Pharmaceutical supply chain risk, for example, has often been involved with potentially dangerous medication errors.
“Medication errors are a commonly reported patient safety event, and drug shortages have frequently been identified as a causal or contributory factor in these errors,” Lechtman said. “It’s not a surprising fact. Clinicians unfamiliar with new drugs and their prescription and administration protocols are more likely to make mistakes.”
Yet, identifying drug shortages as a factor in isolation requires lengthy investigations, root cause analyses and enough data aggregation to see clear trends. Somewhere there is a disconnect between supply chain risk management and downstream clinical risk management. Fragmented ERM fails to take into account how vendor risks can directly impact patients.
Now, external resources – like the FDA’s Drug Shortages Database – help healthcare providers monitor and manage this issue, but Lechtman argues that effective integrated risk management could have helped the solve the problem internally.
“In integrated risk management, the pharmacy supply chain risk could be identified and mitigated much faster, with protocols put in place to train staff on use of identified alternative medications to reduce unfamiliarity and error,” Lechtman said.
Crisis management and business continuity offer another example. New Conditions of Participation for Medicare that go into effect later this year will require healthcare providers to improve emergency preparedness, which includes having business continuity plans. Patient safety is again a critical factor in planning for transportation and use of backup supplies and facilities in the event of an emergency.
Nearly all hospitals and health systems report trying to implement ERM at some level of their organization. But, even if they want to integrate it, they have lacked the technology to enable the vision.
“Legacy vendors focus on patient safety, claims and risk management specifically designed for healthcare. They don’t support broader risk management, governance and compliance risk that healthcare organizations sorely need,” he said.
Achieving True Integration
Other industries, where patient safety isn’t a consideration, have been working towards an integrated approach for years. The financial services sector, for example, has been implementing Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions for much longer due to its exposure to regulatory and compliance risk. The healthcare industry’s late arrival to ERM gives it a unique opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and “leapfrog” over other sectors, Lechtman said.
“Just as much of the developed world skipped building expensive wired communications infrastructure in favor of cell phones, healthcare has the opportunity to leapfrog into true integrated risk management and avoid the pitfalls of a fragmented, siloed ERM approach,” he said.
However, “it’s hard to succeed in integrated risk management when information systems can’t handle it,” Lechtman said.
The ideal integrated risk management solutions for healthcare need to excel at helping provider organizations identify and manage their unique hazard risks — like patient safety — while seamlessly scaling to other insurable and strategic risks types that healthcare shares with other industries. And, of course, they need to be able to secure sensitive healthcare data and support healthcare privacy compliance.
Seeing is Believing
Riskonnect’s Integrated Risk Management Solutions™ check all the boxes. Scalable on a single platform, the system can handle everything from patient safety, patient relations, claims and litigation management, peer review, accreditation and HIPAA compliance, employee safety and health, governance risk, reputation risk, reimbursement risk, vendor and supply chain risk, business continuity management and strategic risk.
“We’ve taken lessons from other industries, and we’ve incorporated that into our healthcare approach so that, instead of providing another limited point solution, we can do everything for healthcare risk and do it well,” Lechtman said.
Riskonnect backs up its technology with a combination of clinical healthcare experience and risk management expertise is that is necessary for risk managers to draw the connections between patient safety and other risk areas.
“If you can make the connection from other risk areas back to patient safety, you can improve that critical risk area faster and more effectively. “Limited and siloed patient safety systems just can’t do that.”
Riskonnect’s Integrated Risk Management Solutions™ can house and allow access to data and workflows connected to all risks. The solutions provide all the functions that a risk manager or claims professional might need, from notifications to determination of compensability through to follow-ups, and everything in between.
The description alone is compelling, but nothing compares to actually experiencing everything the system can do on a day-to-day basis.
“Seeing really is believing,” said Lechtman. “People are blown away when they see what true integrated risk management can accomplish.”
For more information on Riskonnect Healthcare, visit: https://riskonnect.com/integrated-risk-management-solutions/healthcare/
For more information on Riskonnect Integrated Risk Management Solutions, visit: https://riskonnect.com/integrated-risk-management-solutions/
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Riskonnect. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.