Risk Management and Needs Assessment in Health Care

Risk management and needs assessment are crucial components of providing quality health care. Through identifying potential risks to patients, staff, and the organization as a whole, as well as assessing the needs of patients and communities, health care professionals can work to mitigate harm and better meet the needs of those they serve. This paper will explore the importance and processes of risk management and needs assessment in health care settings.
Risk Management in Health Care
Risk management involves identifying, evaluating, and taking steps to reduce or eliminate potential risks that could have negative consequences in a health care setting (Joint Commission, 2022). Some key risks that health care risk managers focus on include:
Patient safety risks such as falls, medication errors, surgical mistakes, hospital-acquired infections, etc. Proper risk assessment and mitigation strategies can help reduce adverse events.
Security risks like violence, theft, or data breaches. Risk managers work to ensure the physical safety of patients and staff as well as the security of sensitive information (Kruse et al., 2016).
Financial risks including fraud, waste, budget overruns, lawsuits, and more. Thorough risk analysis and controls can help organizations operate efficiently and remain fiscally sound (Kruse et al., 2016).
Reputational risks if patient privacy is compromised, quality standards are not met, or other issues damage trust in the organization. Managing all risks well protects an organization’s reputation.
To conduct risk management, health care professionals use tools like failure mode and effects analysis, root cause analysis of past issues, checklists, audits, and more to systematically evaluate all processes, procedures, technologies, and human/organizational factors involved in care delivery (The Joint Commission, 2022). They then work with clinicians, administrators, and other staff to implement policies, training, monitoring, and other strategies aimed at reducing identified risks to acceptable levels.
Needs Assessment in Health Care
Needs assessment is the process of identifying and evaluating the health-related needs of patients and communities (CDC, 2022). It helps health care organizations better understand:
What diseases or conditions affect specific populations and how prevalent they are. This informs resource allocation and program development.
Barriers patients face accessing services like transportation difficulties, limited English proficiency, lack of insurance, etc. Addressing barriers improves health equity.
Health behaviors and risk factors prevalent in a community such as smoking rates, obesity, substance abuse issues (CDC, 2022).
Social determinants impacting health like poverty, education, employment, housing stability, and more (Healthy People 2030, 2022).
To perform needs assessments, health care providers and public health professionals may analyze local health data, conduct surveys of patients and community members, perform focus groups, and consult with social service organizations. Needs assessment findings guide strategic planning, quality improvement efforts, and interventions aimed at meeting community health needs (CDC, 2022).
Both risk management and needs assessment are crucial for health care organizations to fulfill their missions in an ethical, high-quality, and sustainable manner. Some examples help illustrate their importance and interrelationship.
For instance, a needs assessment may find a high rate of falls among elderly patients in a certain neighborhood (Healthy People 2030, 2022). In response, a hospital could implement a risk management plan involving fall risk assessments, safety protocols, alarm systems, training, and public education campaigns (The Joint Commission, 2022). This mitigates risks while addressing an identified community need.
Another example is that a needs assessment may uncover transportation barriers preventing some from accessing primary care (CDC, 2022). A clinic could then arrange for mobile health services to travel to patients on certain days each week, reducing this risk factor (Kruse et al., 2016). Simultaneously, the transportation barrier identified in needs assessment is addressed.
Through ongoing, systematic risk management and needs assessment practices, health care professionals can work to continuously close gaps, overcome challenges, and improve outcomes. Both are foundational to high reliability and meeting evolving population health needs.
In summary, risk management and needs assessment are interrelated, essential functions within health care delivery. By identifying and evaluating potential risks as well as patient and community needs, organizations can take targeted actions to enhance safety, quality, access, and population health. When paired with data-driven quality improvement efforts, risk management and needs assessment help health care systems fulfill their missions in a sustainable, equitable manner over the long term.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Conducting a needs assessment. https://www.cdc.gov/std/program/pupestd/StepsToConductAneedsAssessment.pdf
Healthy People 2030. (2022). Social determinants of health. https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health
Joint Commission. (2022). Sentinel event policy and procedures. https://www.jointcommission.org/resources/patient-safety-topics/sentinel-event/sentinel-event-policy-and-procedures/
Kruse, C. S., Bolton, K., & Freriks, G. (2015). The effect of patient portals on quality outcomes and its implications to meaningful use: A systematic review. Journal of medical Internet research, 17(2), e44. https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.3171

Published by
Write essays
View all posts