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24 January 2019

Healthcare: putting the best foot forward

By Fraser Doig

If you’ve ever doubted the need for an effective risk management system in healthcare, consider the plight of Willie King. In 1995, Mr. King found himself in need of a diabetes-related amputation below the knee of his right leg. A fairly routine operation for any surgeon worth his salt – however – after awakening, Willie made a shocking discovery. Reaching down with his right hand, expecting to feel, well, nothing, Willie grabbed a hold of his still-attached limb. “Well that was unexpected” he thought, casually reaching down to scratch his left foot, “they must’ve decided not to amputate at all… wait.” To his horror, Willie swiped below the knee of his left leg… at thin air. Yup - the surgeon cut off THE WRONG LEG.

The subsequent investigation resulted in a temporary ban on elective surgeries being carried out in the hospital and a $1.15m lawsuit. It also uncovered the chain of errors that were made that could have been prevented if the proper risk assessments were made prior to surgery. Yet despite technological improvements and increasing regulations over the past 20 years, the healthcare industry is still plagued by preventable mistakes that could be avoided by proper performance and risk management. According to a recent report, NHS medication errors contribute to as many as 22,000 deaths a year, and the cost of mistakes stands at £1.6bn a year. Clearly, this is not good enough. Thankfully, issues like these can be controlled through the use of software that provides complete, real time visibility and control to every aspect of strategic and operational risk.


In an increasingly-regulated world, the fines levied at the healthcare industry for non-compliance are becoming ever larger, and organisations are eager to achieve compliance at any cost. Software applications such as Pentana Risk have been designed to ensure quality and consistency in this respect, and to help organisations meet and exceed compliance objectives. Being able to monitor performance is crucial; not only does it make sure fatal errors are avoided, it provides a method of evaluating overall performance and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.


In the healthcare industry, reputation is everything. If people can’t trust their healthcare professionals, who can they trust? As a result, managing public perception is a vital priority to healthcare organisations, and many have turned to technology to help them achieve their goals. Having a software application that can anticipate, identify and fix issues, challenges, and opportunities for improvement gives organisations the control needed to manage this critical aspect of business. It also has the added benefit of promoting employee trust and developing a positive working culture within the organisation.


Sadly, the aforementioned report demonstrates how a lack of awareness to risk in healthcare claims the lives of thousands of patients every year. Risk management is such an integral part of this industry and far too often the systems in place are shown to be insufficient. Healthcare professionals owe it to their patients to make sure that every step is being taken to ensure their safety. Today’s technology has the ability to bring risk into full focus. Pentana Risk visualises risks in interactive dashboards and heat maps, giving management a live view of emerging risk and mitigation plans in action. By harnessing the power of this type of software solution, healthcare organisations can make real strides towards preventing such easily avoidable deaths.


Ideagen have over 100 customers from the healthcare industry using Pentana Risk to fulfil their performance and risk management requirements. The software provides a single application that allows organisations to track performance through real-time reporting, identify risks, optimise controls and tests, manage actions, ensure regulatory compliance and improve operations generally across the board. With the immense pressure on healthcare organisations to consistently perform at the highest level, Pentana Risk offers the ideal solution to achieving these goals.

Find out how you can increase transparency and improve accountability in a journey towards excellence with Pentana Risk

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