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By Diane Doherty, MS, CPHRM
Senior Vice President, Healthcare Risk Management

No one anticipated the unprecedented challenges healthcare risk managers would be navigating as we embark on HRM Week 2020. Yet negotiating the unpredictable, managing the unforeseen, is what healthcare risk managers do every day – and their adept response to the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic typifies what these professionals do best. 

As the greatest public healthcare crisis of our time, the coronavirus pandemic brought rapid-fire changes in compliance requirements and patient care priorities, while upending the norms for managing patient-family relations and stretching front line responders beyond anything we have seen before.

Forging a “New Normal” in Patient-Family Relations

Strong, trusting relationships with patients and families in times of crisis do not occur by happenstance. They are the result of an institutional commitment to transparency, integrity and mutual communication. During this pandemic, risk managers have been the shepherds of patient-family relations, managing expectations by accurately conveying realistic clinical conditions, and keeping patients and families apprised of the rapidly changing status and impact of the outbreak. Through web-based interfaces and other digital avenues, they provide ample opportunity for family members to ask questions about their loved one’s care, and to better understand the restrictions that COVID-19 places on both clinical practice and visitor access to institutions.

Risk managers have also been at the forefront in helping organizations leverage web-based interfaces and other digital avenues to provide ample opportunity for family members to get answers about a loved one’s condition and care, to understand the restrictions COVID-19 places on both clinical practice and visitor access, and to maintain positive patient-family-provider connections.

Risk professionals have also been helping healthcare administrators detect and mitigate common sources of conflict and resolve differences of opinion regarding available patient care options during the outbreak. By fostering broad participation and inclusion of patients, families, staff and administrators, risk managers help maintain harmony and minimize conflict during a distressing and potentially contentious time.

New Urgency to Employee interventions

Risk managers have long been sensitive to healthcare workers in need, working with administrators to identify staff at risk of mental health difficulties and deploying professional counseling programs. Medical providers, nurses and clinical support workers on the front lines of this pandemic have faced unprecedented levels of stress.  Risk Managers have been at the forefront of supporting employee mental health and will continue to do so in this COVID-19 recovery period.  They are well versed with coordinating employee crisis sessions and programs to address the mental health fallout from this career-defining event …  one that’s end remains uncertain.

On behalf of all of us at Chubb Healthcare, I express our gratitude to healthcare risk managers nationwide. Thank you for all you do.

Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by ACE American Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates.  This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. No liabilities or warranties are assumed or provided by the information contained in this document.