Who holds the responsibility for risks in healthcare?
According to the Serious Incident Framework by NHS England, a serious safety event (SSE) is defined as "events in healthcare where the potential for learning is so great, or the consequences to patients, families and carers, staff or organisation are so significant that they warrant using additional resources to mount a comprehensive response."
In that respect, risk in healthcare is a shared responsibility, from a patient's bedside to a seat at the boardroom table. Regardless of an individual’s job description, everyone in healthcare has the potential to create or prevent risk.
So why do we associate the responsibility of risk primarily with the risk management department?
According to PwC's Risk in Review 2017 report, there exists a need to rethink that conception. The report states that there is "an ongoing shift in the ownership of risk management activities." It seems that many industries are approaching risk management and accountability as a collaborative and shared responsibility. Indeed, the report suggests that "nearly two thirds (63%) of our respondents said shifting more risk management responsibilities to the front-line staff makes companies better at anticipating and mitigating risk events."
In this way, risk management becomes a communal responsibility – overseen and structured by the risk management department. After all, as healthcare organisations and systems create cultures of safety and zero-tolerance, the need for high-quality, high-integrity data becomes even more essential – and a lot of that data comes from reporting.
But shifting the onus to front line staff can be easier said than done.
Staff might see reporting as a significant addition to their workload. In other instances, they may worry that reporting an incident will get them in trouble. Or, as one National Center for Biotechnology Information article astutely puts it, "data collection can be poor because staff don't see the point."
Just as patients want to feel that they are being listened to, staff want to know that the work they put into reporting will have an impact. How do we keep staff engagement – the lifeblood of healthcare improvement - as high as possible? The answer may be in the strength of the feedback loop. We see this every day in our own lives; When you make a charitable donation, you want to see how those contributions are being used to help those in need; when you help your kids study for a test, you want to see that A+ and smile when they bring the paper home.
There are lots of great strategies to help make that happen:
Put patient safety reporting in the spotlight in a big way. One way to do that is by joining national trends like World Patient Safety Day and getting creative with how you showcase patient safety. Our customers shared some of their favourite stories on social media.
Take the focus of the event and shift it to the potential impact. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust has been working hard to achieve that with their more open culture which has increased reporting - you can read more about their strategy.
Close the loop on reporting. This is where technology can really play a constructive role in helping you encourage staff to take ownership of the role they play in risk management. DatixCloudIQ from RLDatix offers several ways to bolster a sound feedback loop while promoting a high degree of staff engagement and ownership.
How does RLDatix DatixCloudIQ help?
We're only as good as the data we collect. DatixCloudIQ is designed to help healthcare organisations have an open communication channel with front line staff and keep them engaged, surface all relevant and important information to the managers and leaders in order to make the right decisions and be able to customise information collected to suit their needs.
Reporter Feedback Emails - Promotes a feedback loop by providing submitters with a friendly, personalised, automated message thanking the user for their submission and offers a platform for the administrator to describe how your organisation puts their valuable contributions to good use.
Dashboards – Provides a better look into the information collected within the system to surface and understand trends. The dashboard also offers the ability to see information from both the Risk and Feedback modules at the same time, more clearly highlighting the link between feedback provided and mitigated risk.
Front Line Views – Access to data, communication and task management functions help support effective sharing of responsibility and learning to all staff at every level of your organisation.
Shaping the future of risk management
Risk mitigation and ultimately patient safety, don't just rest with management and leadership. Having an engaged front-line staff, proactive teams and direction all contribute towards patient safety.
Ready to start your patient safety journey with RLDatix? Book time with one of the RLDatix team members. Get started today.