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Healthcare Risk Management Technology Helps Support Patient Safety Culture

By Origami Risk

Healthcare Risk Management Technology Helps Support Patient Safety Culture

The key to establishing a strong safety culture begins with leadership and filters through the organization. “Leaders are key to instilling a commitment to safety in all members of the organization to create a positive safety culture,” writes Dana Costar in “Cross-Cutting Patient Safety Topics/Practices” from Making Healthcare Safer III: A Critical Analysis of Existing and Emerging Patient Safety Practices (AHRQ, 2020). “When a deviation in safety processes or practices is observed, staff speak up or take action to contain the problem and/or resolve the issue. In the event that an adverse event or near miss does occur, incidents are reported without fear of blame or punishment.”

Unfortunately, fear of retribution can stand in the way of a willingness to report adverse events. And reporting, though an essential element, is only one of many hurdles to be cleared as a patient safety culture improves and matures.

Risk management technology supports a safety culture by providing options that can help lower or eliminate barriers to reporting. Additionally, a platform that includes integrated workflow automation and analysis tools is also essential to reducing the likelihood of adverse events occurring in the future.


Healthcare Technology Transforms Incident Reporting

Applied correctly, risk management technology can transform adverse event reporting in the following ways:

Improves efficiency, applicability, and accuracy

Reporting processes are often perceived by staff to be overly burdensome. There are many reasons why. Some reporting forms require an undue amount of manual data entry; others include questions not applicable to the type of event being reported. Such shortcomings contribute to rushed, inaccurate, or incomplete reporting. A risk management system with configurable reporting forms that include elements such as contingent questions, drop-down code lists, and predictive field population contributes to fewer data entry errors and reduces the amount of time staff is away from patients and urgent duties.

Reduces resistance to reporting

Allowing for anonymous reporting can help to minimize the fear of retribution. This can, in turn, lead to greater honesty in reporting. On the other hand, staff members may wish to stay up on the progress being updated on the review or investigation of a reported event. The right risk management technology will include incident reporting capabilities that allow for both options — named or anonymous — based on the reporter’s preference.

Enables reporting of adverse events where (and when) they occur

To increase rates of reporting, organizations can also benefit from a solution that allows for doing so via online portal and mobile device. This allows staff to capture incident details as soon as possible — even when a workstation or internet access is unavailable — which can contribute to reduced lag time and helps investigations get underway more quickly.


Foster a Patient Safety Culture

Leadership must move quickly and with purpose once incidents are reported. This means alerting those tasked with review and root cause analysis, strategically analyzing aggregated healthcare data, and sharing the results with stakeholders. Yet leaders at many organizations fail to follow through on these steps, which discourages employees from reporting, as they see no evidence that it makes a difference.

One step toward fostering change is to alert key parties after the entry of a patient safety event. Integrated, rules-based automation in a healthcare risk management solution can be set to generate alerts to designated members of staff for swift action and increased accountability.

At subsequent stages, the system can send automated updates to the event report. And after the root cause analysis or other steps have been carried out, the reporter can see how exactly the incident report helped move the needle.

Organizations can also analyze adverse event data to uncover trends and spot outliers then put that data to work to affect change. For example, good solutions include integrated tools for applying root-cause methodologies — e.g., fishbone, RCA2, and the 5 whys — to inform strategic decision-making and enhance program quality. When corrective actions bring about noticeable change, staff are encouraged to continue contributing.


Positively Impact Patient Safety Culture

While healthcare organizations may use similar best practices, frameworks, and methodologies, no two approaches to patient safety will be the same. Likewise, the right healthcare risk management solution must be the right fit for each organization looking to change its patient safety culture. It must also be configurable enough to match existing processes and capable of handling future needs. To learn about the healthcare risk management solutions available from Origami Risk, visit