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Are we headed towards a risk tsunami?

April 12, 2022
April 12, 2022

This blog post is taken from a recent webinar moderated by Caroline Acree, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Clinical Development and featured Trisha Coady, HealthStream’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Workforce Development Solutions, Robyne Wilcox, Vice President of Quality and Safety Programs, Luther Cale, Vice President of Clinical Programs and Christina McElvogue, Director of Clinical Programs. The webinar focused on emerging issues around providing safe, high-quality care in the high-risk situations created by the pandemic. Promoting a culture of safety starts with asking the right questions and understanding the risks – including the kinds of risks that were either caused or exacerbated by the pandemic.

Maintaining safe, quality care amidst rising vacancy rates

Wilcox addressed the issue of how to focus on safety in the midst of rising vacancy rates. She recommends starting with the basics. Leaders should ensure that employees know and understand safety policies and their roles in organizational safety. She encouraged leaders to be intentional and strategic in their approach including using automated tools like HealthStream’s Policy Manager to ensure that staff are always current and that the content is readily available to staff.

Wilcox observed that “customers who have had the most success building a culture of safety have leveraged data to proactively identify vulnerabilities and then they are creating remedial education programs that reinforce the latest best practices. Leveraging tools like ComplyQ and SafetyQ help organizations design role-specific learning plans that will help learners stay current on federal requirements.”

McElvogue pointed out that just like an actual tsunami, the risk tsunami has warning signs that are evident before the wave actually arrives. She points to the increasing numbers of newer nurses, transient staff, travel nurses and float nurses – groups that are typically associated with higher levels of risk – as an early warning sign. “Our partners and customers are asking how best to put their nurses on a trajectory of growth that will follow them throughout their careers. They are reducing risk by retaining skilled nurses.”

Strategies for rapid onboarding

The ability to demonstrate competence in previously-mastered skills and then to quickly move on to new areas is the “secret weapon” in rapid onboarding. “I think that adaptive learning should be a key strategy for rapid onboarding for organizations who do not want to compromise on quality,” said Cale. He also recommends including assessments of critical thinking skills. Cale further urges organizations to think of orientation and onboarding as separate processes. “We have to focus on the basics of new hire information, but then we need to begin the process of really integrating that employee into their new role with training, support and a clear set of expectations,” said Cale. He also cited research from the Harvard Business Review that suggested that it takes about eight months for a new employee to reach peak productivity. He contrasted that with the length of the average onboarding program of just three months. “I really urge healthcare leaders to get in the mindset of ‘how can I make this person successful?’ and have frequent check-ins and regular feedback throughout,” said Cale.

Working differently to avoid risk

Citing a need to be more creative going forward, Coady asked fellow panel members how organizations should be creative in their approach to risk avoidance. Cale recommends that organizations embrace standardization and decision support tools such as electronic checklists to standardize processes and to validate staff compliance with the organization’s policies. Cale also encourages that leaders and their teams ground themselves deeply in the kinds of competency that ensures that everyone can confidently respond to a crisis.

Additionally, McElvogue encouraged leaders to use online learning, hybrid models that include online and instructor-led learning and simulation to really maximize the benefits of education and to ensure that learners are prepared to make the most out of every learning opportunity.

Wilcox also pointed to the use of data to help inform how we respond to managing risk. “Big data management and data visualization tools are helping to change the way that healthcare leaders deal with quality and policy management,” said Wilcox. She encouraged automation to manage data integrity and work flows.