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In September 2020, Bill Schwacke, Origami’s Healthcare Practice Lead, moderated a panel with panelists from across the healthcare insurance value chain, who discussed the organizational impact, steps taken, mitigation strategies, and future learnings for healthcare organizations during the coronavirus crisis.

The panel consisted of:

  • Anne Ussery, Director of Risk Operations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC)
  • Jason Bennett, Managing Director and Deputy National Healthcare Practice Leader at Aon
  • Margaret Nekic, President & CEO, Inspirien

Impact of the Pandemic on Healthcare Organizations

The panelists first discussed the initial impact of the pandemic and their continued response. Among the challenges discussed were:

  • The transition of in-person visits to telehealth
  • Moving to a remote environment for administrative employees
  • Reduction in revenue due to little-to-no elective procedures

For providers, the primary issue was: how to get COVID-19 patients treated from a capacity perspective, while still ensuring the health and safety of patients and employees alike. This begged questions such as:

  • How to track staff exposure and ensure proper contact tracing—this is especially challenging given potential exposures both at work and in personal life
  • How to provide proper coverage for emergency credentialing and volunteer clinicians
  • How to balance supporting employees while being fiscally responsible in line with the increase in workers’ compensation claims

COVID-19 exacerbated challenges in the insurance industry that existed pre-pandemic (i.e., a hardening market). For example, the healthcare insurance landscape observed an increase in COVID-19 exclusion coverages and underwriters pulling out of the HPL market. Both brokers and insurers worked to get hospitals timely information to ensure they had the resources they needed to make proper decisions about risk coverage and managing COVID-19 patients in a way that is more proactive, rather than reactive. One observation was of the “halo effect” or decrease in medical malpractice claims due to the positive perception of healthcare workers during the pandemic. There are still questions as to whether this trend will persist throughout the pandemic and beyond, or if it was a temporary phenomenon.

Impact of Technology in the Era of COVID

The panelists agreed that the pandemic has brought about a revolutionary change in how healthcare is delivered: the advent of telemedicine. Jason Bennett (Aon) commented, “Consumers have voted and absolutely prefer certain care through telehealth.” While the transition to telemedicine had been relatively gradual prior to 2020, the pandemic brought about significant disruption to normal activities, resulting in the widespread adoption of remote care.

From a risk management perspective, the panelists discussed the need for, and usefulness of, a single, integrated system like Origami Risk to manage data for a full view of employees and locations impacted. Margaret Nekic (Inspirien) noted, “Origami has been a robust tool for our medical malpractice and worker’s compensation lines of business—in terms of its claims processing and policy administration functionality. We have also found the platform to be invaluable from a business continuity planning (BCP) perspective as we’ve responded to COVID-19.”

A major challenge for many healthcare providers is that much of the data is in different systems and formats, as highlighted by the audience poll below.

Poll: The majority of risk management teams collected data in various formats during the pandemic.
The majority of risk management teams collected data in various formats during the pandemic.

While organizations may have gotten by with this approach pre-pandemic, COVID-19 has made the need for an integrated platform more essential to gain insight into risk management initiatives and results.

Long-Term Impact of the Pandemic

The panel ended on a positive note, highlighting that the pandemic sparked more collaboration, teamwork, and innovation. In terms of long-term challenges associated with the pandemic, Anne Ussery (VUMC) observed, “It’s important to make sure that patients are prioritizing their health and seeing doctors regularly again—and comfortable coming back to the hospital in a safe way.” The panelists mentioned that we may not see all of the long-term impacts of the pandemic for another 2-3 years, but we’ve learned that we need to be proactive with future challenges. COVID-19 has taught us the importance of preparing for disasters and mitigating risks in an increasingly complex world.

The full panel recording is available here. For more of Origami’s resources on the COVID-19 pandemic, see here. To learn more about Origami’s integrated solution that can help healthcare organizations handle the challenges the panelists discussed around disparate data across departments, request a demo.