The word “unprecedented” has appeared in nearly all the articles and news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique place businesses around the world find themselves in right now. However, borrowing from motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek, what we’re seeing now isn’t really without precedent. The environment we find ourselves in now is new and the transformation has been full of surprises and, at times, disorienting. But we’ve seen upheavals in the past—situations that have either put companies out of business or prompted them to reinvent themselves.
It’s been fascinating to watch MPL Association member companies and affiliate partners navigate this new territory. As we move forward, it’s instructive to look, not at what we don’t know, but rather what we are learning. And the Association has certainly learned quite a bit from our members in recent months.
As much of the world was—and still is—struggling with the response to COVID-19, the Association is convening groups of the best and brightest in the industry to facilitate the knowledge sharing that we know members find so valuable. Whether it’s getting the latest update on U.S. legislative efforts, sharing the challenges and solutions among our members’ chief medical officers, learning from our international colleagues about their challenges, or gathering and posting the wide range of return-to-work policies, we have come together to chart different courses and create new solutions.
From these gatherings, we’ve been able to anticipate and reposition ourselves. For instance, during an online international section meeting in April, the profound impact on international travel and business became clear—information that was part of the decision to postpone
our international conference scheduled for Ottawa in October. We moved our annual conference online and, thanks to the flexibility of presenters, hosted a successful web series packed with important information presented by expert speakers. Thanks to the creativity of staff
and our member leaders in the technology/human resources/finance, underwriting, and claims/risk management/patient safety sections, we’re poised to have a set of exciting live online workshops in the autumn, taking topics and issues to a greater audience not constrained
by travel restrictions.
Following the old adage about never letting a crisis go to waste, we have been able to make real progress on Capitol Hill and in the states to gain liability protections for healthcare professionals working on the front lines and those who have only recently been able to return
to treating patients for non-COVID illnesses. These policy discussions in the U.S. have been instructive to others around the world, including our members and public policymakers in many countries.
The compelling need for the widespread use of and support for telemedicine during this pandemic has gotten the attention of the public, the healthcare community, lawmakers, and regulators. All stakeholders have learned an immense amount about the value and challenges of delivering care remotely. As government leaders begin the process in the U.S. of adapting for a post-COVID-19 world, the MPL Association has been leading the effort to help educate them about liability concerns that should be carefully considered. Leveraging data from the Association’s Data Sharing Project (DSP) we were able to show that while only a small number of telemedicine-related claims have been reported to date, a higher percentage of those claims resulted in payments compared with all other paid-to-closed claims. The average indemnity payment was slightly lower for telemedicine claims than the average claim; however, the costs associated with defending a claim have been more than 20% higher than costs for other claims. Through this data gathered from MPL Association members, we are able to show that the expansion of telemedicine has the potential to open new avenues for liability claims, and thus force higher costs on both the liability and healthcare systems.
It’s times like these that show the value of the MPL Association and the power of our work together. We thank all of you who have been participating in virtual meetings and your willingness to share your expertise and innovative ideas with us and each other. We no longer have the luxury of the status quo. Working together during these times and building upon our collective new knowledge, we are learning and considering what the MPL industry will be in the future, not simply how we get through this unique time. Life and business are not likely to ever return to exactly as they were before March 2020. When this crisis is eventually behind us, it will have made our member companies stronger, those they employ and insure more experienced and chastened, and this Association more resilient, nimble and ready to
meet your changing needs.