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The future of health care: The need for risk management

April 11, 2017
Chris Odom
From the April 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Never before in the history of health care have managers and hospital administrators been held more accountable for patient safety and the quality of their care. The pressure for performance-based results along with budget constraints will continue to increase. From the CEO and throughout the hospital, health care providers are not only held accountable by government regulatory agencies and private accrediting organizations, but also by a well-informed public.

Institutions are facing increasing financial challenges in the ever-changing, competitive landscape of health care reform where patients have greater access to hospital data to make informed decisions about where to seek treatment. Today’s savvy health care consumers seek out hospitals that produce better patient outcomes. These positive outcomes are much easier to achieve by eliminating the consequences of downtime or compromised equipment performance.

Beyond being the right thing to do, the result is that safeguarding patient safety becomes the most important source of revenue. Consequently, the more concentrated areas of revenue in a hospital demand attention to downtime and total cost of ownership. For example, many institutions’ patient billings generate more than 65 percent of revenue within the OR. In turn, this significant uninterrupted revenue stream is highly dependent on the reliable and compliant performance of equipment and the people who keep this equipment operating at an optimum level.

What continues to create restless nights among health care professionals is the shared knowledge that in the U.S., health care facilities are challenged to serve an ever-increasing volume of patient admissions. It’s estimated that more than one out of 10 men, women and children will be admitted to a hospital in the next 12 months. Add the increase in patients to achieving better outcomes while maintaining a budget and the future of health care is clear. Health care has become an exercise in risk management that goes well beyond the reduction of downtime or even the elimination of HAIs.

Given the continual stream of advancements surrounding surgical workflows, the expectations for positive patient outcomes are far greater than ever before. With this comes the associated clinical, financial and legal risk when something goes awry. Clinicians, especially surgeons, in ironic fashion have become victims of their own success. Because they have proven to be able to do more, they are expected to succeed regardless of the circumstances. If they fail, the legal system, media and an increasingly informed public are looking to assign responsibility, if not blame. That puts a lot of pressure on the OR, CS and hospital administrators to get it right each and every time, despite the fact that matters of life and death often are out of their control.

Manufacturers of medical equipment must continue to recognize the role they play in helping all health care members, and those who support their efforts, manage the many risks they face on a daily basis. As technology advances, medical equipment manufacturers must focus on creating technology platforms that reduce surgeon fatigue, decrease OR turnover time, provide a better view of the surgical cavity, deliver sterile goods and let surgeons quickly access patient data and visual documentation. These are just a few of the imperatives in helping institutions implement a broader strategy of risk containment and ultimately the better outcomes everyone seeks.

About the author: Chris Odom is the president of Surgical Workflows, Getinge.

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