MODERN HEALTHCARE launched the "Excellence in Healthcare Risk Management Awards" with Deerfield, Ill.-based MMI Cos. nine years ago in a climate of intense litigation.
Medical malpractice lawsuits were costing hospitals millions of dollars annually with no end in sight, stoking the rise in healthcare costs and seriously threatening the finances of healthcare organizations.
"MMI came to us with the idea for the awards," says Clark Bell, MODERN HEALTHCARE's editor and associate publisher. "Together we felt we could show that risk management, when done properly, could enhance efficiency and improve quality of care."
MMI is an international corporation providing risk-management consulting services and insurance products to the healthcare industry.
MMI Executive Vice President Anna Marie Hajek says the awards have raised awareness of risk management issues and broadened risk management's definition.
"The awards and the submissions recognize the growing stature of risk management with a wider focus than it ever traditionally had," she says. "These submissions prove that the professional management of risk does what it's supposed to do: enhance the quality of care and contain or reduce costs, thereby enhancing the competitive position of that organization in the marketplace. Today risk management is a strategic management tool. It's far more than just buying malpractice insurance."
Hajek says the awards celebrate programs focusing on safety and injury prevention and call attention to activities that accomplish those goals in a positive way.
She was impressed by the diversity of scope in this year's proposals: "The entries ranged from strong, integrated, patient-focused efforts to precise little programs that did a lot of good for individual communities and got people to go out and do things."
The contest judges reflect the many faces of risk management in healthcare, including several physicians, a hospital chief executive officer, a malpractice lawyer, an outside consultant, a risk management director for a health plan and a medical director of a physician group practice (See list of judges, this page).
Over the years the awards have reflected the changes in services and delivery within healthcare. For example, physician practices and health plans were added to the original category of hospitals and health systems.
Besides a plaque and industrywide recognition, winning entries in each category receive a $5,000 award-$3,000 to the organization's program and $2,000 to the person or group that championed the program.
Entries were judged according to the following five criteria, with the relative weight of each criterion shown in parentheses:
* The level of integration across organizational lines (30%), showing how broadly the program is disseminated and implemented throughout the system.
* The nonfinancial impact on the organization (25%) such as effect on patient care, time savings and patient satisfaction.
* The best use of existing resources (20%) to reduce risk.
* The financial impact of the program on the organization (20%), demonstrating cost-benefit analysis, dollars saved or generated.
* The quality of the program summary, including an endorsement of the project by the facility's chief executive (5%).
This year there were 16 entries in the category of hospitals/health systems/integrated systems, four in the medical group practices/physician organizations category and two in the health plan category.