February 4, 2021
This article appeared in the January 2021 issue of Healthcare Compliance Association Compliance Today magazine.
For months, our world, our country, our healthcare systems, and our lives have been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been impossible to hide from the realities of the pandemic as news, social media, and conversations with friends and colleagues have frequently centered on the continuously developing COVID-19 stories. At the same time, our healthcare systems have not been able to hide or be sheltered from the course-altering effects of the pandemic. Healthcare providers around the country have been rocked in multiple ways, including their financial health, their ability to take care of patients, and the new normal of taking both small and drastic measures to help prevent COVID-19 transmission. While pandemics are no “black swan” events, very few in our country were fully ready for the effects of one. Households rushed to hoard pantry supplies and toilet paper, and healthcare systems clamored to reorganize operations and try to guess and react to what was coming next. Businesses and organizations around the country and around the world are wondering what they could have done to be more prepared. Should they have known this was coming? Could they have more intentionally planned for and forecasted this event in order to be better equipped to handle the sequelae of the pandemic, or even been able to flourish through it and come out stronger on the other side? These are questions that our country’s healthcare leaders should be asking. And many of the answers can be found in the discipline of enterprise risk management (ERM).
The article provides an overview of ERM in healthcare, discusses the interface between ERM and Corporate Compliance, introduces several “lessons learned” from ERM during the pandemic, and provides some practical tips on developing ERM in a healthcare organization.