Doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners are no strangers to risk. Every day, they face contagious diseases, heal potentially fatal ailments and make treatment decisions that could very well be matters of life and death.

Of course, risk lies around every corner of the healthcare space, and it's not limited solely to patient care. Administrative tasks present their own issues that could result in lost revenue or worse. Risk management in healthcare needs to be a major priority in 2018, and these three problems should be at the top of any organization's to-do list:

1. Maintain HIPAA compliance

For years, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has kept the healthcare industry in line when it comes to patient data management. HIPAA outlines exactly how medical information should be stored, transmitted and handled, as well as how healthcare officials should respond in the event of a data breach.

Violating HIPAA guidelines is an extremely expensive proposition, regardless of whether that transgression is intentional or simply negligent. Penalties can reach as high as $1.5 million for truly egregious incidents.

"Violating HIPAA guidelines is an extremely expensive proposition."

Further complicating matters is the fact that healthcare-focused regulations like HIPAA are not necessarily static. Changes can be made from year to year that could affect an organization's standing. Compliance teams need to spring into action to ensure every T is crossed and every I is dotted, but how can they be sure that everything is accounted for?

That's where issue tracking software comes into the picture.

Issue tracking solutions allow compliance officers to assign tasks and monitor progress, flagging items that have gone unaddressed. It keeps your foot on the compliance pedal, so nothing slips through the cracks.

2. Minimize and insulate against malpractice cases

No discussion about risk management in healthcare would be complete without talking about malpractice. Often considered the bane of the industry, malpractice cases are a fact of life for healthcare practitioners and administrators. Although the number of paid claims have gone down in recent years, the average payout increased 23 percent between 1992 and 2014.

With stakes as high as they are in healthcare, malpractice cases will never be completely avoidable, but administrators can minimize their exposure by being cognizant of the risks in any treatment decision and taking proper precautions.

Malpractice should always be a top risk management concern.Malpractice should always be a top risk management concern.

3. Creating a cultural change

Risk management doesn't necessarily need to be an issue for the legal department or HR to sort out. Safeguarding yourself against all the different risks that could arise requires a more systemic change in the way your organization operates. You need to cultivate a positive, risk management-focused culture to keep workflows free of potentially damaging oversights and problems.

Proper complaint management processes, for instance, can bring to light lingering problems in a healthcare facility that have gone unaddressed for far too long. Such issues may not necessarily be threats to patient care performance (although they can certainly be precisely that), but they may negatively impact the patient experience, leading individuals to consider other facilities for non-emergency treatment.

Issue tracking software can help healthcare administrators stay on top of internal workflows and identify potential hiccups, resulting in stronger risk management performance across the board.