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ASHRM 2022, held in Boston, MA, was a fantastic experience. With more and more healthcare conferences returning to in-person formats, conferences like ASHRM provide attendees and exhibitors with rich networking, learning, and growing experiences we’ve all been craving since pre-COVID times. After speaking with some ASHRM Board Members, we learned that attendance was close to their 2019 numbers, which was absolutely amazing to hear! Big congratulations to the ASHRM Board on making it happen this year. Here are some things we observed and learned at this year’s show!

  1. I’d be remiss not to start with surgical fire safety. 1 in 2 attendees we spoke to had surgical fire safety on their radar, unfortunately, due to recent challenges and incidences. This ratio is staggering, considering how many healthcare professionals believe surgical fires and related patient burns to be incredibly rare events. These never events and near misses may be happening more often than we thought, and a preventive approach with engineered solutions like GloShield is best to eliminate hazards and unnecessary claim payouts. This means Risk Management working with surgical leadership collaboratively. Attendees expressed excitement about GloShield when they saw its performance, ease of use, and compliance benefits, along with how easy of a win it would be for their own departments.
  2. One thing the Jackson Medical and GloShield team observed was how engaged, energetic, and excited the attendees were this year. Often, attendees aren’t always interested in engaging with exhibitors or exploring the expo hall to find new solutions. We get it! The education part is essential, and the expo hall can seem overwhelming. But at ASHRM, we saw so much active engagement from the attendees in many different forms beyond just visiting booths and attending sessions. In fact, two of the sessions I was most interested in attending were AT CAPACITY!!!! Even some of the sessions held in the solution space were Standing Room Only! There was a real appetite to learn this year which reinforces how proactive healthcare risk managers are, in general.
  3. Two or three booths away from Jackson Medical was Ethicon focusing this year on raising awareness about counterfeit medical devices. When we first heard this, we were in shock that counterfeit medical devices were able to make their way into a hospital. Risk Managers are encouraged to inform Supply Chain and Sourcing departments at their hospitals and to verify incoming products are high quality and not damaged or counterfeit. Ensure no gray-market products are making their way into the hospital. Dinh Le from Ethicon is an expert on the topic.
  4. Cybersecurity was an understandably key theme this year, given the heightened risk in healthcare. One group that provided a case study was The University of Vermont Health Network highlighting how they reacted to their recent cyber attack during the COVID pandemic. We all know how big of a challenge it can be when there’s a cyber attack. The first thing to go is all the electronic systems. But what you may not know is that this includes your communication systems as well. For the case of UVHN, they went dark on their electronic and network systems for 28 days!!! That is such a long time to operate off a paper-based system with runners to communicate between departments and patients. Have a plan in place and organized incident management in the event of a cyberattack that is longer than the 2-5 days you regularly prepare staff for.
  5. Enterprise Risk Management, or ERM, provides hospitals and healthcare systems with definite value by balancing reactive/proactive risk management and bringing together cross-functional teams, risk managers, and executives/board members in a system that stresses ownership, responsibility, and accountability. ASHRM provides a playbook for introducing and implementing an ERM at your hospital if there isn’t one already. Change is hard, especially in healthcare. But an ERM will aid your organization immensely. It all starts with the executives and board, so make sure you are communicating to them their responsibilities in risk management and how ERM will aid your collective efforts in maintaining a culture of risk awareness.

In summary, there was a lot to learn and see at ASHRM 2022 this year. Additionally, a fantastic turnout meant productive networking opportunities. Special shoutout to Scott Lucas and Josh Hyatt for their insights and sharing their experience – we’ve networked and Zoom-called each other this year, but it was great to finally meet you both in person for the first time! Writing this blog post on World Patient Safety Day, it’s important to give another shoutout to the ASHRM Board for making this event successful and the Healthcare Risk Managers that work day-in and day-out to enhance patient safety and make healthcare safer!

-Kamil Makhnejia

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