Self-assessments correct problems and buff image

Self-assessments can be used to address known problems within the organization and also to promote a risk manager’s stature, says Kenneth W. Felton, RN, MS, FASHRM, senior vice president and health care practice leader with Webster Insurance in Waterbury, CT, and a former hospital risk manager.

In addition to revealing issues that may have gone unnoticed, self-assessments also can be helpful when you already know you have problems that will alarm underwriters. Felton tells the story of a long-term care facility that received a notice of nonrenewal after the underwriter saw a state department of health report that showed widespread deficiencies. Many risk managers might assume that the insurer would not provide coverage, but he worked with the facility’s risk manager to conduct a thorough self-assessment focusing on the problems outlined by the department of health.

"We had full commitment by administration to implement a plan of action, and we also included performance measures and internal audits that were performed at six-month intervals to monitor staff performance to the changes in policies and procedures," Felton reports. "We also did risk management education and on-site consultation."

Afterward, the insurance carrier sent an independent risk consultant to perform a risk assessment, which resulted in reinstating the insurance coverage.

Build credibility

Any self-assessment can serve as a template for determining what educational efforts are needed in the near future, Felton says. He also notes that self-assessments can be useful for the risk manager internally.

"The self-assessment helps us all as risk managers build our credibility within the institution," he says. "It also helps us empower others within the organization. It is important to use this information to show senior leadership the risk management activities performed within the organization, which builds our credibility and leadership and also engenders support for future endeavors."