The Business of Risk

The global economy and business industry are presently experiencing unprecedented circumstances. Hopes for aggressive growth over short timelines have been dashed for many. The markets seem so volatile. Business schools and commerce majors look to evolve and market themselves for the future with a concentration on risk analysis and risk management. The objective is to design strategic plans more impervious to the effects of flattened revenues and recession. The debate ensues between between risk and security.

Indeed, the healthcare industry must engage in this very same discussion. Patients place similar demands on their therapists. They present with the goal of rapid recovery and a return to normal function. Taking chances can lead to setbacks; however, being overly protective and careful can result in only modest improvement, reaching a plateau, and even depression. This leaves health professionals with the same dilemma between challenge and safety. 

One might argue that hospitals and even insurers would happily settle for stabilized health conditions with minimal potential for deterioration. Certainly, they would accept better patient outcomes, but not likely if it meant increased cost due to incidents in the therapy department. This defensive approach may temporarily maintain health and support associated industry partners that develop aids and devices, but will not attack the impairments, diagnoses and activity limitations that ultimately restrict patient participation in their previous quality of life. The winner: industry. The loser: patients.

Therefore, it would appear, therapists must decide to be risk takers or risk avoiders. All while being immersed in a culture that seems to value risk aversion, and with very little risk tolerance. The literature and research, though, would submit that best practice requires pushing patients in therapy to the point of “just right challenge”. The idea that if we are not requiring the body and system to find new solutions and improve, then we remain the same or even regress. If we only try things we can already do, then we are not changing. To get better we must try things we cannot do, things that are difficult, and work with more intensity so we rise to the challenge. In the face of failure can be found the reward of success.

Accepting this all to be true, how then do we make wise choices in our therapy sessions? We may begin with assessing our own risk tolerance and proclivities. We might need a mechanism for calculating and evaluating risk, and ultimately for managing risk. Instead of the financier role, this may be the most valuable contribution of insurance companies to healthcare. Actuarial sciences might have something to teach us in this regard. Or it may be as simple as the most basic of risk formulas, that risk = probability x loss. While we have a requirement to reduce loss for our payers, surely our greatest responsibility is in maximizing the possibilities for our patients.

Are you willing to take the risk to do the right thing?

To explore this topic further, and its practical application in therapy, be sure to register for a course like The NeuroPro Certification Standards or The NeuroPro Skills for Rehabilitation.