Managing Multifaceted Risks

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Elements of risk pervade medical and pharmacy care practice. Risks come from any of varied sources and/or any element or phenomenon that could result in loss, be it financial, operational, physical, emotional, and other. Some types of risk are borne from natural disasters like fires and floods, and others might be attributed to human causes such as theft or practice negligence. Errors that arise from megiligence or rooted in some other cause can end up with the pharmacy business incurring litigation, financial loss, decrements in reputation, and many other negative consequences. As such, one type of loss usually carries other types of loss along with it. A solid approach to risk management takes into account the various sources of risk concomitantly.

Cole, Chadhary, and Bang describe such an evolutionary and comprehensive approach to risk management in health care.1 They discuss the unpredictable nature of revenues given potential changes in health policy (eg, reimbursement), shifts in patient demographics, and changes in volume (number of cases or patients). They further discuss organizational realignments such as through mergers and acquisitions in health care; physical integration such as when a hospital begins hiring rather than contracting with physicians; upward or downward shifts in quality; compliance with HIPAA and other important regulations; and the use of top-notch information technology (IT) that can help identify and manage risks. The authors describe a mechanism to develop a risk score for various components of the health care business, such as regulatory compliance, charge (revenue) capture, clinical information technology, and payment denials from health plans.

Pharmacists and pharmacy managers must be aware of the various risks emcountered in the course of daily operation of the pharmacy business, regardless of setting. In an integrated secondary or tertiary care setting, they might be part of a team that evaluates risk for the entire institution and help to evaluate policies and technologies that minimize risk to the extent possible. After all, unchecked risks that ruin a pharmacy business will also damage its constituent employees and possibly its patients.

Additional information about Risk Management in Contemporary Pharmacy Practice and Ensuring Quality in Pharmacy Operations can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Cole SA, Chaudary R, Bang DA. Sustainable risk management for an evolving healthcare arena. Healthc Financ Manage. 2014;68:11014 S. Hudson Ave.-114.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Shane Desselle almost 2 years ago

Risks are multiplicative in nature. That is, exposure to one type of risk usually opens the business up to other types of risks, concomitantly.