With the curtain drawn on the 2018 American Society for Healthcare Risk Management Annual Conference, what did we learn?

Okay, what did I learn. I won’t pretend to speak for every attendee and exhibitor, but I do have enough of an ego to be perfectly comfortably enlightening you with my observations.

Signs of The Times

  • Educational sessions certainly reflected hot topics of healthcare risk: sexual misconduct, millennials, firearms, wearable technology, social media, transgender issues, cyber security, and opioids.
  • Enterprise Risk Management has officially begun moving beyond the basic-level courses of conferences past. Even the “ERM 101” session was on how two health systems successfully implemented ERM and advanced sessions like “Evolving ERM Programs” were available. So as an industry, we now appear to be largely past the evaluation stage of ERM. Congratulations everybody! Four years of ASHRM support and a lot of hard work and we’ve made it! And if you’re not yet ready to implement ERM as an organization, don’t worry. There was still a session titled “Starting an ERM Program: Where Do I Begin?” But it is time to buckle down and do your homework before next October’s 2019 conference. I’m not sure such an elementary session will be repeated. Oh, and there will be a quiz.
  • Elements of ERM, and even Integrated Risk Management, are also now working their way into ASHRM educational offerings with sessions like:
    • Risk Management and Ethics: Intersection, Engagement and Impact on Patient Safety
    • The Value of Connecting Employee Engagement, Patient Experience & Malpractice Costs
    • Managing the Toxic Enterprise Risk of Provider-Patient Sexual Misconduct
    • Reputation: The Risk of Risks—Crossing the ASHRM ERM Domains

In The Solutions Center, similar evolutionary themes were apparent. Traditional patient safety and risk management system vendors are now saying their “collection of software” can manage your Enterprise Risk Management initiative. One even—and inexplicably—borrows a synonym from other industries and calls it Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) for healthcare. Speaking of GRC, two vendors from that space were on the ASHRM show floor for the first time this year, trying to pass themselves off as being relevant to healthcare.

Other changes were noticeable as well. The vendors are consolidating. Four of the big solutions providers are now two, and at least some of the remaining smaller players are likely to be assimilated as well.

So what did I learn? As healthcare provider organizations mature in their approach to ERM, at least some vendors are scrambling to catch up, if not keep up. HPOs are beginning to notice the gap in capabilities and are starting to look outside of their traditional safety and risk management vendors (although I’m also seeing disappointment in these choices as well, at least after some painful attempt to force-fit them into healthcare).

The best option is to utilize an integrated risk management platform with healthcare ERM in its DNA.

Some things will never change.