A healthcare risk manager is a professional who continually assesses and minimizes various risks to staff, patients and the public in health care organizations. These health care administrators play a vital role in reducing potential safety, finance and patient problems.

What is Health Care Risk Management?

The role of risk management is not new to the business world, but is relatively new to the field of health care. Risk management is an integrated function that utilizes a number of disciplines to reduce the potential for organizational losses. Most health care risk management activities are proactive or preemptive techniques designed to mitigate or prevent losses. Because the health care industry is driven by quality measurements and the need for legal compliance, risk management demonstrates it's worth through reducing cost savings. For example, a healthcare risk manager would focus on objective, measurable goals that would reduce malpractice claims or employee turnover rates. Therefore, they must have excellent math, analytical and administrative skills.

What Does a Health Care Risk Manager Do?

Health care risk managers are trained to handle different ongoing or unexpected PR, personnel, operations or financial problems. They are part of the upper medical administration staff, but their specific duties depend on the position itself and the health care organization. For example, they may work in clinical research or they may help hospitals prepare for emergencies. On the other hand, they may work directly with insurance and finance companies to streamline claims management. However, almost all health care risk managers will assist with incident management involving minor, daily problems and major, unexpected events.

What is a Normal Day Like for a Health Care Risk Manager?

The typical day-to-day activities of a health care risk manager involve sensitive patient, legal and financial information. In fact, all of this information will directly affect the health care organization's public image and legal or financial status. Their daily activities include managing legal and insurance claims against the organization and communicating with internal and external legal counsel. They use software programs to run reports and analyze risk management data. They also provide risk management training to key health care organization staff, such as other managers or front-line supervisors. They must also ensure compliance with industry standard risk management guidelines that are overseen by the Joint Commission and other regulatory government agencies.

What Education is Required?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical or health service managers generally have a Bachelor's degree in health care management or administration. Understandably, many health care organizations expect health care risk managers to have a Master's degree that will ensure advanced training in budgeting, strategic planning, HR administration and hospital organization. Many health care risk managers pursue certification through the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM), the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) or the American Hospital Association (AHA). For example, the AHA offers a Certified Professional in Health Care Risk Management exam and certification. Anyone interested in learning more about health care risk management should explore the American Society for Health Care Risk Management's website.

To recap, a health care risk manager plays a vital role in minimizing or eliminating legal, financial and health care related risks. A healthcare risk manager is an administrative professional who coordinates, manages and reduces these risks.