Healthcare Risk Professionals: A Retrospective and Look to the Future

Healthcare risk professionals play a critical role in ensuring patient safety and mitigating risks within healthcare organizations. While their work may go unnoticed by patients, their expertise and actions have a profound impact on the overall healthcare experience. As we celebrate these influential risk professionals, it’s important to reflect on the evolution of the risk management profession over the years and explore the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

A Shift in Focus

Healthcare risk management originated in the 1950s and 1960s, primarily centered around insurance solutions. However, as medical care became more complex, the focus of healthcare risk management expanded to encompass clinical risk and medical error identification and mitigation. This shift highlights the growing recognition of the importance of proactive risk management strategies.

In 2006, the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) introduced the concept of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) through a three-part monograph. ERM incorporated the eight domains of risk, providing a comprehensive framework to address risks holistically within healthcare organizations. This approach enables risk professionals to identify, assess and mitigate risks across various areas, including clinical, operational, financial and more.

Certifications & Education Paths

While many colleges and universities offer degrees in Risk Management, the path to becoming a risk professional is often diverse and not exclusively healthcare-related. This diversity brings a unique blend of perspectives and skillsets to the field, enriching the profession with multidisciplinary expertise.

The Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM) designation is widely regarded as the premier certification for risk management professionals in the healthcare industry. Approximately 2,500 risk professionals have earned this certification, demonstrating their commitment to excellence and expertise in the field.

Advanced certifications include Fellow and Distinguished Fellow of the American Society for Health Care Risk Management (FASHRM and DFASHRM).

Tackling Challenges & Cultivating Success

Healthcare risk programs are closely aligned with various departments within organizations, including patient safety, quality, legal, patient experience, and finance. Risk professionals provide valuable guidance and advice to colleagues at all levels, fostering a culture of risk awareness and accountability.

Whether experienced or new to the field, risk professionals require certain essential qualities to excel in their roles. These include objectivity, integrity, clear communication skills (both verbal and written), critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, delegation skills, a calm demeanor, fairness, crisis leadership and compassion. These qualities enable risk professionals to navigate complex situations and make informed decisions for the benefit of patients and healthcare organizations.

Worker Shortage

Similar to many other areas in healthcare, the risk management profession is currently facing workforce shortages. Many organizations struggle to hire seasoned or experienced risk professionals. In such cases, hiring individuals with the right qualities and a willingness to learn can be a viable option. These individuals can acquire risk education through professional organizations, such as ASHRM and ECRI, which offers a range of learning opportunities, both virtual and in-person, throughout the year.

Looking Forward

As we look back at the evolution of healthcare risk professionals, it is evident that their influence and impact have grown significantly over the years. The field continues to evolve, embracing new concepts and methodologies to address emerging risks in healthcare. With ongoing challenges and opportunities, risk professionals remain at the forefront of ensuring patient safety, minimizing adverse events, and contributing to the overall success of healthcare organizations.

Is your organization struggling with healthcare risk professional staffing? Talk to a trusted RCM&D advisor today. We can help provide temporary staffing options as well as useful training solutions for your staff.

Enter for a Chance to Win!

Respond to the questions in this questionnaire and provide your contact information to enter for a chance to win a risk management playbook or equivalent value of ASHRM products, valued at $145. This contest closes on June 26, 2023 and the winner will be announced shortly after via email.