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Three Takeaways From ASHRM 2023

Three Takeaways From ASHRM 2023

Despite what has been a challenging year for the healthcare industry, attendees were in high spirits at ASHRM’s 2023 Annual Conference this week, with over 2,500 people coming together to collaborate and share best practices for advancing safe and trusted healthcare.

The I-PASS team was excited to return as exhibitors as well as make our debut on the ASHRM stage. Going into the week, we were eager to report our findings and dialogue with industry changemakers. After a productive few days of attending illuminating sessions, exploring the solution center, and engaging with likeminded risk professionals, we traveled home from Minneapolis and reflected on all that we heard while at the event. Here are the three key themes that rose to the top.

Key Takeaways From ASHRM 2023

1. Structured communication is the future of risk management.

We heard it loud and clear in sessions throughout the conference: risk leaders can no longer afford to ignore this significant crack in the healthcare system: miscommunication.

Over 300 attendees filled the room for Patient Safety’s Hidden Threat: Variation in Processes and Communication, a session presented by Christopher Landrigan, MD, Chief, Division of General Pediatrics Boston Children’s Hospital, Robert Hanscom, Retired Vice President of Risk Management & Analytics COVERYS, Pat Folcarelli, Vice President for Patient Safety CRICO, and Abraham Jacob, MD, Chief Quality Officer at M Health Fairview.

During the session, the presenters shared data published by leading malpractice carriers, laid out findings from the Joint Commission and recent clinical research studies, and examined the impact of variation on safe healthcare. In a universal goal to shrink the tip of the malpractice iceberg, the panelists discussed how implementing structured communication models is a viable prevention strategy with a high potential to reduce variation and significantly improve safety and outcomes. Throughout the week, numerous presentations highlighted the need for “structured communication,” with the I-PASS methodology serving as the gold standard.

2. Systemic change requires systemic efforts.

While there has been some progress in advancing patient safety goals, many initiatives have operated in narrow silos. In conversations with other healthcare leaders at ASHRM, it’s clear that across the board, few resources have been devoted to addressing the well-known vulnerabilities often surfacing in care transitions. Fundamental change will only occur when evidence-based standards are broadly implemented at the national level. The healthcare industry must act as one to create a standard for more consistent care delivery that sustainably improves patient safety. Only this level of systemic change can drive the improvements in patient safety that we are all working towards. 

3. Claims severity continues to surge.

Driven by inflation, medical malpractice claims continue to impose a significant financial burden on the healthcare system (Aon estimated the annual cost to be $62B). Even though medical malpractice claim frequency has slowly increased, claim payouts have increased significantly. These “megaverdicts” claims—payouts over $10M—are a key concern for both hospitals and malpractice insurers. Medical professional liability (MPL) organizations are experiencing a steady rise in claims severity and megaverdicts. High-severity injury cases that involve human factors like communication failures become much harder to defend and drive up payout amounts.

Turning Takeaways into Action

We left ASHRM inspired and re-energized about our work in elevating the national standard of care. This past week reaffirmed our shared responsibility to make healthcare delivery safer for all. We’re committed to helping risk management professionals identify, address, and eradicate the root causes of harm that permeate the healthcare industry.

After an exciting week, it’s important to keep the momentum going by taking the next steps to standardize communication at your institution. Thank you to ASHRM for hosting another productive conference; we can’t wait for next year’s event!

Didn’t get a chance to chat with I-PASS at ASHRM? Visit our website to explore our tailored risk management resources and get in touch with a member of our team.

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