Implementing an enterprise risk management (ERM) program can be a daunting, intimidating project. Trying to introduce new frameworks and controls across the organization, roll up risk reporting from the unit to enterprise level, and initiate discussions with the board that lead to action can be overwhelming. Using techniques proven to work with startups, however, can make the process far more manageable and increase the odds for success.
Startup incubators often promote a few common themes:
- Let customers/market dictate the product
- Scale it down – start small and go live fast
- Do the research and learn about the market
- Get feedback as quickly as possible
- Fail silently – incorporate lessons learned without dragging the whole effort down
These techniques suggest that the traditional high-profile, enterprise-wide rollout of a new ERM program may not always be the best way to launch. Instead, focusing on the smallest scale project—one with the potential to yield meaningful results—and relying on a customer-driven approach may be the key to creating a sustainable, effective ERM program.
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Technology can play a pivotal role in improving claims management by providing adjusters, claims managers, and other stakeholders with direct, centralized access to the pertinent claims information that they need to do their jobs. As Improving claims administration with an integrated solution points out, centralizing claims data in an integrated system “that combines workflow automation tools with all of the functionality needed for end-to-end claims adjusting can be transformative.” This is especially true when the system is used to streamline claims handling processes, increase adjuster productivity, and inform decisions that contribute to swift, cost-effective claim closure.
Improving incident reporting, controlling costs, and closing claims more quickly certainly count as claim management “wins.” Yet, as Christopher Mandel points out in Next-Level Claim Strategies, there is the potential to take claims management to an even higher level.
“Just when you thought risk managers understood and had explored all the opportunities around optimizing the claims management function, next-level opportunities emerge,” he writes at the outset of the article, which examines the shared goals, motivations, and hurdles that make up the “long minimized and largely untapped synergy between casualty claims (risk management) and the benefits world.”
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Workers’ compensation programs consist of a complex web of claims, numbers, analyses, and communications that require an inordinate amount of time and focus from claims adjusters and claimants alike. And with 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017 alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this complicated process is widespread.
Furthermore, claims themselves are growing more complex. A survey conducted at the 2018 NWCDC & Expo by Risk & Insurance revealed an increase in complex claims as among the top 10 workers’ comp challenges for 2019. Dr. Robert Goldberg, chief medical officer for Healthesystems, told Risk & Insurance, “Many complex claims develop due to the psychological aspects of the injured worker that either pre-date the injury or are caused directly or indirectly by the injury. Early identification and intervention are required to short-circuit the development of such claims.”
With the right technology in place, companies and their employees can simplify and streamline the workers’ comp process. This reduces claim complexity, protects injured workers, and returns business to usual more quickly.
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The healthcare industry has especially high stakes when it comes to risk management. The risks aren’t simply business- or reputation-related, though those are important. The most significant ones can be a matter of life or death. Patient safety is at the heart of every hospital’s risk management program and, because of this, a generic risk management information system (RMIS) may not be up to the challenge.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations may consider using a generic RMIS for a variety of reasons. Perhaps another part of the organization is already using one, so it seems simpler and cheaper to stick with the same system. Although using a single platform across an organization is typically a logical approach, given the healthcare industry’s uniquely critical needs, this approach may not cover the healthcare setting’s unique needs and thus can fail, adding more hassle, expense, time, and risk not only to your organization, but also to your patients.
In terms of both the software and the service team supporting that software, a dedicated healthcare risk management solution offers clear advantages over a generic RMIS. This gives healthcare organizations greater insight for staying on track and, ultimately, improving patient safety.
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Risk managers looking to move on from spreadsheets or leave the limitations of a legacy system behind know what they want from a new RMIS. But they should also know there are certain things they’re entitled to. Given the size of the investment, as well as the fact that the system will support efforts to prevent losses, control costs, and inform decisions that impact an entire organization, there are—at a minimum—five critical elements that every risk manager should expect from their RMIS platform and service team.
#1 – A transparent, proven RMIS implementation process
RMIS implementations are complex endeavors. Promises of “quick” and “easy” should be taken with a grain of salt. As with IT projects of any size, the potential for unforeseen delays and changes in scope are not uncommon. You deserve to know where you stand throughout the implementation process. In addition to a detailed plan for delivery, the team you work with should also be experienced enough to anticipate and address potential problems, and have a track record of successfully responding to unforeseeable issues.
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Deciding to implement a RMIS system or make a RMIS switch comes with a range of emotions. There’s the excitement of knowing something better is on the horizon. There’s the nervous energy that comes with major change. There may even be dread over the daunting task ahead. After all, you know your current RMIS—warts and all—and a new one takes some time to get used to. But the payoff from getting a new system that’s adaptable to your organization’s specific needs can’t be overstated.
Don’t let the fear of implementation stop you from making a change that will reap benefits for years to come. With a straightforward plan in place that plays to your organization’s strengths, you can slay the implementation dragon—and even enjoy yourself along the way. Such was the case for non-profit professional association New Mexico Counties (NMC), which teamed up with Origami Risk to complete a highly successful implementation.
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A Risk & Insurance article recently stated that the souls of employees everywhere are saying, “Treat me like a human.” This applies to your claimants, as well. You’ve likely already considered many of the ways you can provide them better service, but you may have yet to tap into one of the keys to humanizing the claims process: automation.
The word is everywhere, as pervasive as the technology it’s infiltrating. Automation can bring to mind processes that are cold, robotic, and removed. So, considering software with automation functionalities may raise some hesitations. Will automation put distance between us and our clients? Will processes become mechanical and impersonal? How will this affect our service reputation and brand?
As the article Automation and AI: Miracle Tool or Hostile Takeover points out, automation “is neither the one answer nor a dangerous technology to be shunned. It’s another tool available to your organization, and every tool must be used effectively and for the right problem.”
Automation, when done properly, can bring more heart and soul into the work you do. Many manual processes consist of time-sucking drudgery. They leave you vulnerable to error and service headaches. They can become ingrained within your organization, forcing you to treat every claim or client the exact same way, despite variables, because deviating requires even more work. By using automation strategically, you’ll be able to deliver service to your claimants that’s more personal than ever. With a risk management information system (RMIS) that includes built-in automation, you can make humanizing the claims process a reality.
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Research shows that multitasking takes a toll on productivity and heightens the likelihood of error. Multitasking: Switching costs, an American Psychological Association article, briefly summarizes academic research on the subject of what takes place when moving back and forth from one task to another, or when performing multiple tasks in quick succession. Although these measurements, or “switch costs,” are relatively infinitesimal–a few tenths of a second per switch–they are compounded when a person repeatedly moves back and forth between tasks. Eventually, these add up to result in a notable amount of wasted time.
According to the article, “multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. [University of Michigan professor David E.] Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.” An understanding of these hidden costs can help people select strategies that improve efficiency, “above all, by avoiding multitasking, especially with complex tasks.”
Moving back and forth between legacy systems and spreadsheets in the underwriting process—activities that may have become so routine as to feel like second nature—carries its own switch costs. In this case, the costs come in the form of inefficiency and added risk that impacts both risk pool staff and members.
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