Edward Hall

Edward Hall

Simon Mawer

Simon Mawer

In Part 1, we discussed why Safe Patient Handling and Mobility programs are a big issue in healthcare today, and the promise they hold to reduce patient and caregiver injury.


In Part 2, we discussed some of the programmatic elements essential to the return on investment (ROI) for your safe patient handling program. For more on this, check out this article by Eric Race, which includes a test to forecast program value, adjusted for the depth of commitment made by the organization.


Today, let’s look at how to put the business case together for your safe patient handling and movement program. 


Starting a Safe Patient Handling Program


First, you need to think like a CEO.  Your business case will provide a comprehensive account of the total program benefits and costs to the institution, measured against an accurate assessment of the status quo – keep in mind, the decision to ‘do nothing’ has costs and benefits to the institution as well.


The traditional approach to justifying investment in safe patient handling programs is to measure the value of the program against estimated savings in known costs, for example, in worker’s compensation or lost and restricted work days.  In some cases, those will enough to justify investment.


However, you may need more.


For example, for the new Stanford Hospital, savings in direct costs alone led to an estimated program value of about $2 million, but did not provide a great enough ROI to justify investment in overhead patient handling systems, with which we knew our program would have a much greater positive impact.


Through the VDERM approach, we used the tools of decision analysis to assess both the direct and indirect drivers of program value, as shown in the tornado chart below, which provided an investment grade business case for over $5 million for the safe patient handling program.

















The power of using this methodology is manifold. For example, looking at the tornado diagram alone:


  • Decision analysis provided a scientific method to quantify not only the traditional drivers of program value (eg. worker’s compensation costs and savings in lost and restricted days), but also those for which we had limited data, but which we knew represented  substantial value to the program, (eg. patient satisfaction and patient referrals).


  • The analysis showed us that the biggest value driver for our program was nursing turnover – something no one considered before – and gave us the insight that we could increase the value of the program by nearly $2 million by driving our efforts towards reducing nursing turnover.  It therefore not only uncovered the most important factor for program success, but gave us guidance about how our program should be implemented, and where we should focus our efforts.


  • Finally, decision analysis gave us the tools to be able to track and measure the success of our program going forward, enabling us to demonstrate the return on investment over time to our key stakeholders, and the credibility to seek additional investment in future.


Join us on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, for our live webcast on Making The Business Case for Safe Patient Handling. We’ll be covering all of the topics in this series, and much more!


By Edward Hall and Simon Mawer.


Edward is Chief Operating Officer of The Risk Authority, and was responsible for the role out of Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ safe patient handling program, which received the “Best Practice Award” for safe patient handling, granted by the Office of Veterans Affairs and Administration and the University of South Florida. In his current role at The Risk Authority, Ed oversees clinical risk management, workplace solutions and claims and litigation operations. With over 20 years of diverse risk and insurance management experience, Ed is an authority in managing risks in healthcare and industrial sectors. He is nationally recognized for his development of innovative loss control risk management programs which have led to dramatic increases in both patient safety and financial savings.


Simon serves as Program Manager of Risk Management for The Risk Authority, where he provides claims, risk and decision analysis consulting services for the Stanford University Medical Network and client organizations beyond.   He is a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia, holds a Bachelor of Laws and Graduate Certificate of Legal Practice from the University of Technology, Sydney, and will graduate from the Stanford University Center of Continuing Education with a Certificate in Strategic Decision and Risk Management in 2014.