Managing Risk in a Behavioral Health Environment
By its very nature, behavioral health management involves a certain level of risk. It is incumbent upon healthcare facilities, clinics, and other behavioral health organizations to ensure the health and safety of patients, staff, and visitors alike. In order to do so, organizations must have risk management policies in place.
Managing risk in a behavioral health environment is similar to managing the risk in other environments inasmuch as an organization starts with the same fundamental principles. As a company with more than 40 years in behavioral health management, Horizon Health knows that building risk management policies around these fundamental principles is one of the keys to success.
1. Risks Must Be Identified
There are five fundamental principles upon which risk management policies are built. The first is identification. This sounds a bit too obvious to talk about, but you might be surprised by how many organizations attempt to improve risk management without first identifying all the potential risks.
The process of risk identification can be uncomfortable. It can force organizations to admit shortcomings that have long been swept under the rug. But until all valid risks are identified, mitigating them is nearly impossible.
2. Programs and Services Must Be Reviewed
Reviewing current programs and services is the next fundamental principle. In behavioral health management, we understand that programs and services both affect risk management and are affected by it. A thorough review shows current programs and services in proper perspective. Initial reviews can also be leveraged to create standard review policies for future use.
3. A Means of Reporting Must Be Established
Managing risk in a behavioral health setting is not a one-time or short-term exercise. It is an ongoing effort that never ceases. With that in mind, a means of reporting must be established. Staff need a means by which to report incidents. There needs to be a way to document both successes and failures. To the extent that a facility’s reporting system is thorough in capturing data, managing risk becomes data-driven rather than a guessing game.
In behavioral health management, there is little room for throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. The risks are too great. Therefore, a data-driven approach to is the right way to go. For that to happen, a reporting system must be established.
4. Data Must Be Assessed Objectively
As data comes in, it must be assessed objectively. Objective assessment is always important to risk mitigation, but it is especially critical when organizations are first developing their policies. If data is not analyzed objectively, wise decisions will not be made. No matter what the data shows, policies based on it must reflect an organization’s commitment to do a better job managing risk.
5. Procedures for Change Must Be Established
The fifth and final core principle is establishing procedures through which change can be facilitated. No behavioral health environment is perfect. No program or service will run its full course without ever being modified. Developing procedures through which changes can be implemented provides a framework for orderly modifications. Where procedures are followed, changes are less likely to be haphazard and without purpose.
As a behavioral health management company, we have first-hand experience in dealing with what can go wrong when risk management policies are either not in place or not adhered to. There is no doubt that risk management is critical to behavioral health. Risk will always be present, but it can be managed.
The five fundamental principles discussed in this post lay the groundwork for developing risk management policies. Is your organization ready to get started on developing those policies?
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