The power of portals: How public entities are improving reporting and delivering next-level services

Female worker in front of van with mobile device

Failure to report incidents and safety hazards can have wide-ranging ramifications, impacting employees and their families, public agencies, and the community as a whole. Making work, and workplaces, safer requires the cooperation of everyone—staff, employees, and citizens.

User-friendly and easily accessible tools such as custom risk portals and mobile forms can streamline any project that requires the capture of data—from exposure values and certificates of insurance (COI) details to driver certification information and more. Made available to employees and members of the public for the reporting of incidents, hazards, and near misses, portals and mobile forms help simplify and standardize what is often an arduous and inefficient process. This not only makes reporting these types of events more likely, but also for a more efficient and accurate reporting process.

Making it easier for employees and members of the public to report accidents, damage, and potential hazards has numerous benefits. Among them, a reduction in administrative overhead and decreased lags in reporting, as well as improved transparency and trust. Perhaps most importantly, access to this data can help risk managers and safety professionals identify trends and take proactive, strategic action to reduce future losses or eliminate them altogether.

Mobile apps and online portals make reporting easier

Easier reporting with mobile apps

“Gone are the days of manilla folders and stacks of paper,” writes Jeff Schobel in a PRIMA blog post titled Risk Mitigation: Why Proactive Tools Are The New Reactive Solutions. Schobel focuses on mobile devices as a means of simplifying reporting. “When it’s easy for people to report–such as through a mobile app–it provides a seamless experience with little friction.”

Mobile devices allow for reporting regardless of where an accident occurs or a hazard is identified. When downloaded to a mobile device, Origami Risk mobile forms provide users with the ability to capture incident and near miss details without an internet connection. Elements such as required fields, drop-down lists, and dynamic field population contribute to more consistent, accurate information.

And because even these data elements may not provide enough clarity on details such as the motion of vehicles, the sequence of events, or the intended area of focus within an image, Origami’s sketch functionality allows for the annotation of attached diagrams or photos.

Easier reporting with online portals

Online portals provide similar form elements to users. In Origami Risk, users can configure portal welcome pages to include a logo and any special instructions that may be necessary. Users simply click a link to access; there is no need to remember a username or password.

Users complete form fields, attaching files if necessary. Pages can also be configured to confirm successful submission and provide additional information or instructions.

How Origami Risk clients are using online portals to streamline reporting

Because accidents involving county vehicles may result in injuries to county employees and damages to county vehicles, as well as damage to non-county vehicles and injury to the drivers and occupants of those vehicles, a public entity client in Oregon uses an Origami Risk online portal as a single intake source for simplifying the process of capturing details related to multi-vehicle accidents.

Form design allows users entering accident details to enter information into a single screen that automatically flows to each event type. In the example cited above, accident reporting forms for both county vehicles and non-county vehicles include a section for third-party details. Rather than requiring information to be entered twice, details populated in one form are automatically copied over into the appropriate fields of other incident types.

Three benefits of easier incident, near miss, and hazard reporting

Simplifying the reporting of accidents, damage, and potential hazards has numerous benefits. Among them are lower claim costs, greater transparency and trust between public entities and citizens, and reduced administrative overhead.

1. Less costly claims

By making it easier to report incident details, public entities can reduce costs should incidents become claims. Delayed reporting results in significant insurance costs. In the PRIMA blog post, A New Approach To Controlling Lag Time, author Chuck Goodman cites stats from a Travelers study based on the analysis of 53,000 claims to show just how costly lags in reporting can be. “Injuries reported within 1-2 weeks are 18% more expensive than those reported within 1 week, and injuries reported after the 4th week following an injury are 45% more expensive.”

According to Goodman, early reporting also impacts the costs associated with poor claim outcomes, the potential for the recurrence of injuries, and damage to the relationship between employer and employee. Early reporting means treatment can begin sooner, improving the likelihood of positive outcomes. It also allows more time for taking corrective action that prevents reinjury or the injury of others. Finally, early reporting can play a part in alleviating suspicion of fraud.

There are numerous reasons why employees delay reporting injuries. Goodman explains that these include fear of discipline, peer pressure, perceived hassle, embarrassment, and the perception that an injury is minor and therefore not worth reporting. As outlined in How to create a successful and sustainable near miss culture, it’s also the case that when reporting is too difficult, or when there is a perception that reporting isn’t a priority (think completed paper forms sitting on a desk until someone has time to enter details into a spreadsheet or information management system), people are less likely to see value in reporting. There is no easy “fix” for resolving any of these issues other than to do the work of transforming safety culture. However, taking a practical step, such as making it easier to submit reports by providing users with access to online portals and mobile apps, can serve as a starting point.

2. Increased public engagement and satisfaction

In the private sector, self-service convenience for customers has become so common that the availability of mobile apps and online portals is practically expected. These expectations are increasingly carried over to the public sector. Public entity risk and safety departments can improve engagement and contribute to safer communities by expanding options for citizens to report losses and hazards.

As with employee reporting, online portals and mobile apps are a far better option for members of the public than paper forms. They also solve the problem of reporting via phone or in person, options that busy people have neither the time nor patience for. “Whether we like it or not, we are a mobile-first society and as a result, it’s easier for people to reach for their phone to communicate than to meet face-to-face,” Schobel writes in Risk Mitigation: Why Proactive Tools Are The New Reactive Solutions. “That’s why mobile apps are becoming a quick and easy proactive risk mitigation tool.”

With reports and related details tracked in one system and accessible to citizens, public entities can prove their value and increase levels of satisfaction by delivering consistent, knowledgeable interactions every time a report, suggestion, or complaint is submitted.

How Origami Risk clients are using online portals to improve engagement with the public

To provide citizens with greater say in policing the safe driving practices of county employees, as well as the care of taxpayer-owned fleet vehicles, a county in Florida provides members of the public with the ability to enter comments via an Origami Risk online portal.

Multiple public entities are also taking advantage of Origami online portals, by allowing residents to report property damage caused by employees and/or vehicles via a link on city, county, and risk pool websites. Automated emails quickly acknowledge receipt and prompt staff to respond as quickly as possible.

3. Reduced administrative overhead

Public entity and risk pool staff can also benefit from online portals and mobile apps. Using paper forms to collect details related to incidents, near misses, and hazards typically means data must be rekeyed. The result is too much time spent manually working with data. By eliminating duplicative data entry, and minimizing the likelihood of errors that require correction, staff can spend more time focused on high-value tasks.

The management and tracking of incidents is also made easier through digitization. “Cloud-based incident management is how risk is mitigated proactively because situations are automatically visible for you in one system with paper trails categorized for you automatically,” Schobel explains in Risk Mitigation: Why Proactive Tools Are The New Reactive Solutions. “A cloud-based system designed to reduce your time monitoring and managing incidents reported is key.”

Changing the way incidents, near misses, and hazards are reported allows you to put your data to work

Risk portals and mobile apps used to access customizable forms encourage the accurate and timely reporting of incidents and hazards, reduce the workload on staff, and improve the accessibility of citizenry. Immediate access to accurate, real-time data has an additional benefit. Used in conjunction with robust reporting tools and customizable dashboards like those available in Origami Risk, data can be used by public entity risk and safety professionals to identify trends and take proactive, strategic action to reduce or eliminate losses.

Contact us today to request a demo and learn more about how Origami Risk can help make your operations more efficient, opening the door to next-level services.


Contact Us