Risk Insider: Terri Nichols

Proactive Prevention

By: | January 26, 2015 • 2 min read
Terri Morris-Nichols is system director of risk management at PeaceHealth, a not-for-profit health care system with 10 hospitals and medical facilities in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. She is a registered nurse with a master's degree in health administration. She can be reached at TNichols@peacehealth.org.
Topics: ERM | Risk Insider

As a nation, we have watched the health care landscape change.  Not only have we seen dramatic events that have shaped our processes and systems, but the appetite for accompanying risks has shifted as well.

When we think about the transition of thought that occurred as a result of the threat related to Ebola, we have seen health care organizations accepting greater risks on behalf of those they care for, and showing greater effort in mitigating risk to those who serve.

We saw organizations holding practice sessions for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment in order to protect their employees.

We saw coordination of communications with key partners to educate patients and the public about the risk to the community.

And, we saw an exponential increase in resources used to be ready for what came next.

How can we optimize resources used along a continuum to mitigate risk and protect patients, employees and the public?

It is interesting that the risk presented itself in some cases before the magnitude of the impact was imaginable. Whoever thought that a ride on the teacups at Disneyland would warrant a rapid response from the health care community due to the ever-increasing number of Measles infections?

We must ask ourselves then, how do we create a culture where risks are identified earlier, and processes and systems put in place with greater ease?  How can we optimize resources used along a continuum to mitigate risk and protect patients, employees and the public?

Of course, you can’t have been in risk management or health care for that matter, without understanding that events or issues are standing at the front door waiting to come in without warning.

However, when we use risk maps or other tools to understand the risks to the organization, we must challenge ourselves to broaden our thinking to include those risks that are on the horizon across the nation and globe.

Why must the risk present itself before we launch good, solid processes to mitigate the impact to our valued team members?

We have the tools, know what the culture should look like, and have amazing partners to begin this broader conversation.  Let’s get started!

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Risk Insider: Tony Boobier

Is Risk in Need of a Makeover?

By: | January 26, 2015 • 2 min read
Tony Boobier holds a WW Executive role at IBM, focusing on solutions for Risk and Finance, and was previously IBM Insurance Analytics leader for EMEA. He can be reached at boobier@uk.ibm.com.
Topics: ERM | Risk Insider

According to some commentators, the 10 top things we should be frightened about in business in 2015 are, in no particular order:

• Cyber risk — that someone will put a ghost into the machine.

• Strategic risk — that the C-team get it badly wrong.

• Mis-selling — that we sell something we don’t have, or customers don’t really want or need.

• City failure — that London, New York, Paris or wherever, grind to a stumbling halt.

• Conduct risk — that we aren’t good boys and girls.

• Long duration scandals — that we discover skeletons in the cupboard.

• Illicit transactions — that we have been caught conducting business under the table.

• Model risk — that the real situation is worse than our wildest dreams.

• Physical security — that the locks on the windows aren’t strong enough.

• Social media — that we haven’t covered ourselves in glory, and now everybody knows about it.

These are my definitions, not their’s.

Each of these are bad enough in isolation, but the problems really stack up when you put a few of these together, especially in the same organisation. As we try and put controls around some or all of these things, I wonder if we shouldn’t put a little more emotion into the job?

Isn’t “fear” a much more compelling description, one which appeals to our basic instincts, and threatens our security

I’m intrigued by the use of the term “risk management,” which to me seems a calm expression for anticipating, and subsequently being in control of an event or combination of events that might happen.

But does it really adequately convey the seriousness of the problems? Let’s turn up the heat a little more. Why not call it “fear management?”

At least it gives a greater sense of proportion to the impact of getting it wrong on lives, jobs, finances, homes, and other very important things.

Isn’t “fear” a much more compelling description, one which appeals to our basic instincts, and threatens our security

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” said President Franklin Roosevelt.

Actually, I think he was probably wrong.

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Sponsored: Healthcare Solutions

Diversifying Top Management in Workers’ Comp

Inaugural Women in Workers’ Compensation (WiWC) Forum focuses on advancing more women into top leadership roles.
By: | January 7, 2015 • 5 min read

The panel at the inaugural Women in Workers’ Compensation (WiWC) Forum. From left to right: Eileen Ramallo, Elaine Vega, Nina Smith-Garmon, Nancy Hamlet, Michelle Weatherson, Nanette de la Torre, Danielle Lisenbey.

Across the country, the business community is engaged in a robust conversation about women being under-represented among c-level positions.

Why aren’t more women breaking into upper management roles? Does gender bias still exist? And, perhaps more importantly, what can women and men do to add more diversity to top leadership ranks?

Elaine Vega and Nancy Hamlet, of Healthcare Solutions, the Duluth, Ga.-based health services provider to the workers’ compensation and auto liability/PIP markets, have discussed the issue between themselves many times over the years.

The duo agreed that starting an industry-wide conversation would be an effective start to addressing the challenge. After three years of internal discussions, the inaugural Women in Workers’ Compensation (WiWC) Forum became reality. Judging by the attendance, content and feedback, it was an auspicious, very successful, debut.

Nancy Hamlet, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Healthcare Solutions

Nancy Hamlet, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Healthcare Solutions

Specifically, Healthcare Solutions and LRP Publications teamed up at the National Workers’ compensation and Disability Conference (NWCDC), held Nov. 18-21, 2014 in Las Vegas, to present the first WiWC event focused on the development of women as leaders within the industry. The WiWC debut featured a keynote speaker, a panel discussion and a networking cocktail hour.

“We believe this is just the beginning for the WiWC organization,” said Hamlet, senior vice president of marketing, adding that the event’s main theme was the conversation regarding challenges that still exist for women in the workplace is “current, real … and relevant.”

Originally the forum was allocated a room to hold 150 people. Vega and Hamlet worried about the room being too large, so they asked LRP what the contingency would be to make the room smaller if they couldn’t fill it. They needn’t have worried, as more than 400 women, and some men as well, registered and attended, requiring an even larger room.

“Clearly, the topic is relevant and there was plenty to discuss,” said Vega, senior vice president of account management.

Hamlet explained that WiWC was formed to create an open forum to promote a strong sense of community and support for current and future female leaders in the workers’ compensation industry. Going forward, the WiWC forum will provide insight and ideas with opportunities for members to:

  • Engage … with accomplished industry professionals and build lasting relationships.
  • Enrich … their knowledge base with tactical insights from speakers and panelists.
  • Explore … opportunities and challenges facing women leaders today.
  • Encounter … senior executives’ perspectives on leadership.
  • Examine … leadership strategies and how to effectively apply the strategies.
  • Empower … themselves and others to achieve success and groundbreaking results.

At the inaugural event, keynote speaker Peggy Holtman, co-author of “Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition,” discussed how a seemingly unconnected historical event can offer critical lessons on leadership in the workplace, especially for women looking to move into top executive spots.

Elaine Vega, Senior Vice President of Account Management, Healthcare Solutions

Elaine Vega, Senior Vice President of Account Management, Healthcare Solutions

After Holtman’s talk, a panel discussion, moderated by Vega, offered the perspectives of five workers’ compensation industry executives on ways in which women can navigate past the glass ceiling. Panelists included Eileen Ramallo , EVP Healthcare Solutions; Danielle Lisenbey, CEO Broadspire; Nanette de la Torre, VP Zenith; Nina Smith-Garmon, EVP Mitchell International; and Michelle Weatherson, Director, Claims Medical and Regulatory Division, State Fund of Calif.

The panelists discussed a wide range of topics related to women in workers’ compensation. For example, one topic focused on the need to take the big risks when it comes to moving past workplace barriers. Other topics included the importance of women in higher positions serving as sponsors and advocates for younger, less experienced women; and the impact of industry consolidation on women’s careers and how to best manage that change. Another topic was how women could best master conflict and emotions in the workplace.

“What’s clear is conflict has to be managed; it will not go away. It will only get worse,” said Healthcare Solutions’ Ramallo. “It then can create other rifts that won’t necessarily be visible immediately, but can have a very large impact. You have to be able to understand what it is early on from another’s perspective, why the situation exists, and then encourage and try to resolve a conflict situation, whatever may be driving it.”

In the wake of the first WiWC Forum, Hamlet noted that while there are countless general reports showing that women have not yet achieved equal representation in top leadership positions in the workplace, studies deal with averages rather than individual stories. And while women must continue to look at the data and work toward closing the gap, hearing from accomplished women in the workers’ compensation industry at NWCDC drove home critical messages on a person level.


Today, Vega and Hamlet are looking to expand WiWC to make it “truly owned” by the industry. For example, they expect to recruit companies interested in becoming sponsors, forming an advisory council, creating a charter and discussing future possibilities for the organization on both the national and regional levels.

“Much remains to be done, but I have confidence that we will come together and make the organization stronger so that it prospers for years to come,” Hamlet said. “After all, it’s clear that our industry is filled with talented women who can make things happen!”

Vega added that WiWC has already received requests to live stream the event in the future, so it will examine the feasibility of that option in an effort to be even more inclusive.

“We have a shared vision for improving opportunities for current and future women leaders in workers’ compensation,” Vega said. “It doesn’t matter our gender or our title, it’s all about supporting the greater vision. As was said several times at the event, this is just the beginning. We hope more women and men will join us in this continued dialogue.”

For more information about the WiWC, send email to wiwcleadership@healthcaresolutions.com or join our WiWC group on LinkedIn.


This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Healthcare Solutions. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

Healthcare Solutions serves as a health services company delivering integrated solutions to the property and casualty markets, specializing in workers’ compensation and auto liability/PIP.
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