Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has seen an upward shift in the number of physician practices acquired by hospitals and healthcare systems. Even though the industry has experienced this trend before, the current cycle is unique due to two new factors:
Overseeing risk management programs for acquired physician practices can be a daunting prospect for even the most seasoned hospital risk manager. Because most hospital risk managers do not have a background in physician practices, they should become familiar with the risks associated with the practice model.
The risk manager should first identify the required areas of knowledge and then develop resources to enhance his or her ability to provide effective risk management services. To be successful, a risk manager must have the support of the organization’s top leadership and the physician practice leaders, as well as a clear understanding of the scope of and expectations for what must be accomplished.
It is important to establish priorities and determine the resources needed based on the size of the physician practice and its growth potential. A hospital risk manager is usually conditioned to working with limited resources. Because no two risk management departments are the same, it can be difficult to find data to quantify the resources needed.
It is important to understand the operation and environment of the practice prior to and after the acquisition so you can prepare to mitigate and manage any associated risks. The type of risk assessment depends on the scope of the risk management program. Is the program limited to loss identification and prevention, or does it include claims management as well? Is it limited to a specific type of risk management, such as clinical risk management, or does your responsibility reflect more of an enterprise risk management approach?
Our Interactive Guide for Office Practices is a risk assessment tool that can help you identify liability risks in an office setting. It covers the following areas:
The resources required will be determined by the scope of the physician practice risk management program. If hiring additional risk management staff is not an option, it is imperative that the physician practice managers assume ownership of the practice’s day-to-day risk management responsibilities. This will require the hospital risk manager to educate the practice managers on the principles of risk management and the expectations involved—such as reviewing incident reports, performing follow-up on reported events, trending data, communicating risk management information, and educating their staff.
Larger healthcare organizations may have the resources to provide a risk manager for a more hands-on approach to managing and addressing the risk management needs of multiple physician practices.
Consider These Tips
These techniques can assist you in establishing the framework for a successful physician practice risk management program within a hospital-based system.
Your patient safety risk manager can help you implement strategies tailored to your needs. Contact us at (800) 421-2368, extension 1243, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Amy Wasdin, RN, CPHRM, Regional Patient Safety Risk Manager.
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.