Risk Management

The Profession

Mary Anne Hilliard has served in several risk management and safety positions with Children’s National, and says keeping kids safe and healthy is a fulfilling reward.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I What was your first job?

I got my first real job at the age of 14 working for Burger King in Coral Springs, Fla. Coming out of college, I was a registered nurse here at Children’s National in the adolescent unit.

R&I How did you come to work in risk management?

I wanted to build on my nursing career. I was thinking of being a nurse practitioner but my roommate was studying for the bar, and I thought that would be an interesting combination, so I ended up going to law school. When I graduated, I worked at a law firm in Washington DC, Jackson and Campbell, PC, where I practiced health law with a concentration on malpractice defense litigation. Children’s National, one of our clients, recruited me back in-house.

R&I What is the risk management community doing right?

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We’ve focused our risk management approach on building trust by doing the right thing.  Two important examples include our approach to disclosure and our focus on prevention as the best way to manage risk.  Many times that means focusing our safety efforts on the prevention of negligence-based injury.

R&I What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Risk managers need to make sure they are keeping up with needs as they relate to new business models and new payment models in health care. As we make the shift from volume-based to value-based care, risk managers will need to refocus and make sure they’re appropriately managing new risks. … For example, the current incentives are modeled to keep people well so they don’t get admitted to the hospital, but what if someone needs to be admitted, and we’re too slow to do it because we’re trying to reduce readmissions? We can help health care providers change their business model without having to learn the hard way.

R&I What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Doing the right thing. That will always be the hardest part about working in risk. The phone rings when something has gone wrong. I joke with my team that being in risk management is like working in a kitchen: It’s always hot!  That’s why we risk managers have to stick together and share strategies for success.

R&I What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

In health care, it’s the consolidation in the marketplace and the shift to value-based care and consumerism. As it relates to traditional malpractice exposure, the biggest risk is probably IT-related risks and cyber exposure.

R&I Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

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I’m optimistic because America is a great country with a solid foundation around individual rights and freedom. Sometimes the press and politics can cause us to lose sight of that. But we still lead the way in many domains.

R&I Who is your mentor and why?

Dominic Colaizzo from Aon, because he taught me that the best way to manage risk is to do the right thing — especially after you’ve done the wrong thing. After you’ve done a great job with prevention, then you focus on buying insurance from a company that you trust.

R&I What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

The team at Children’s National was able to reduce our rate of serious safety events by greater than 80 percent. And we’ve sustained that for nearly a decade.

R&I How many emails do you get in a day?

I get about 200. I answer 150, and spend too many weekends catching up!

R&I What is your favorite book or movie?

I recently enjoyed “Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine. It’s a great read for everyone looking for life balance and for risk managers looking for strategies to stay cool in the kitchen!

R&I What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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I love this little Italian place called Pulcinella that’s right in my neighborhood. They know my family by name and they have great pizza.

R&I What is your favorite drink?

Beer. Sam Adams.

R&I What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

I just came back from Donegal, Ireland, where I visited some old Irish relatives. I saw the site where my grandfather’s house had been. My kids were with me, and it was an amazing experience.

R&I What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Running with headphones. I’ve had some close calls with that. But it’s a risk worth taking because it keeps me physically and mentally healthy.

R&I What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

The rewarding part of working in pediatric health care is being part of a team that takes care of kids.

R&I What do your friends and family think you do?

They’re not really sure. They know I work in a hospital and that I get a lot of calls at weird times, and that I love what I do. &




Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Robotics Risk

Rise of the Cobots

Collaborative robots, known as cobots, are rapidly expanding in the workforce due to their versatility. But they bring with them liability concerns.
By: | May 2, 2017 • 5 min read

When the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto hired mobile collaborative robots to bolster security patrols, the goal was to improve costs and safety.

Once the autonomous robotic guards took up their beats — bedecked with alarms, motion sensors, live video streaming and forensics capabilities — no one imagined what would happen next.

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For some reason,  a cobots’ sensors didn’t pick up the movement of a toddler on the sidewalk who was trying to play with the 5-foot-tall, egg-shaped figure.

The 300-pound robot was programmed to stop for shoppers, but it knocked down the child and then ran over his feet while his parents helplessly watched.

Engaged to help, this cobot instead did harm, yet the use of cobots is growing rapidly.

Cobots are the fastest growing segment of the robotics industry, which is projected to hit $135.4 billion in 2019, according to tech research firm IDC.

“Robots are embedding themselves more and more into our lives every day,” said Morgan Kyte, a senior vice president at Marsh.

“Collaborative robots have taken the robotics industry by storm over the past several years,” said Bob Doyle, director of communications at the Robotic Industries Association (RIA).

When traditional robots joined the U.S. workforce in the 1960s, they were often assigned one specific task and put to work safely away from humans in a fenced area.

Today, they are rapidly being deployed in the automotive, plastics, electronics assembly, machine tooling and health care industries due to their ability to function in tandem with human co-workers.

More than 24,000 robots valued at $1.3 billion were ordered from North American companies last year, according to the RIA.

Cobots Rapidly Gain Popularity

Cobots are cheaper, more versatile and lighter, and often have a faster return on investment compared to traditional robots. Some cobots even employ artificial intelligence (AI) so they can adapt to their environment, learn new tasks and improve on their skills.

Bob Doyle, director of communications, Robotic Industry Association

Their software is simple to program, so companies don’t need a computer programmer, called a robotic integrator, to come on site to tweak duties. Most employees can learn how to program them.

While the introduction of cobots into the workplace can bring great productivity gains, it also introduces risk mitigation challenges.

“Where does the problem lie when accidents happen and which insurance covers it?” asked attorney Garry Mathiason, co-chair of the robotics, AI and automation industry group at the law firm Littler Mendelson PC in San Francisco.

“Cobots are still machines and things can go awry in many ways,” Marsh’s Kyte said.

“The robot can fail. A subcomponent can fail. It can draw the wrong conclusions.”

If something goes amiss, exposure may fall to many different parties:  the manufacturer of the cobot, the software developer and/or the purchaser of the cobot, to name a few.

Is it a product defect? Was it an issue in the base code or in the design? Was something done in the cobot’s training? Was it user error?

“Cobots are still machines and things can go awry in many ways.” — Morgan Kyte, senior vice president, Marsh

Is it a workers’ compensation case or a liability issue?

“If you get injured in the workplace, there’s no debate as to liability,” Mathiason said.

But if the employee attributes the injury to a poorly designed or programmed machine and sues the manufacturer of the equipment, that’s not limited by workers’ comp, he added.

Garry Mathiason, co-chair, robotics, AI and automation industry group, Littler Mendelson PC

In the case of a worker killed by a cobot in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2015, the worker’s spouse filed suit against five of the companies responsible for manufacturing the machine.

“It’s going to be unique each time,” Kyte said.

“The issue that keeps me awake at night is that people are so impressed with what a cobot can do, and so they ask it to do a task that it wasn’t meant to perform,” Mathiason said.

Privacy is another consideration.

If the cobot records what is happening around it, takes pictures of its environment and the people in it, an employee or customer might claim a privacy violation.

A public sign disclosing the cobot’s ability to record video or take pictures may be a simple solution. And yet, it is often overlooked, Mathiason said.

Growing Pains in the Industry

There are going to be growing pains as the industry blossoms in advance of any legal and regulatory systems, Mathiason said.

He suggests companies take several mitigation steps before introducing cobots to the workplace.

First, conduct a safety audit that specifically covers robotics. Make sure to properly investigate the use of the technology and consider all options. Run a pilot program to test it out.

Most importantly, he said, assign someone in the organization to get up to speed on the technology and then continuously follow it for updates and new uses.

The Robotics Industry Association has been working with the government to set up safety standards. One employee can join a cobot member association to receive the latest information on regulations.

“I think there’s a lot of confusion about this technology and people see so many things that could go wrong,” Mathiason said.

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“But if you handle it properly with the safety audit, the robotics audit, and pay attention to what the standards are, it’s going to be the opposite; there will be fewer problems.

“And you might even see in your experience rating that you are going to [get] a better price to the policy,” he added.

Without forethought, coverage may slip through the cracks. General liability, E&O, business interruption, personal injury, cyber and privacy claims can all be involved.

AIG’s Lexington Insurance introduced an insurance product in 2015 to address the gray areas cobots and robots create. The coverage brings together general and products liability, robotics errors and omissions, and risk management services, all three of which are tailored for the robotics industry. Minimum premium is $25,000.

Insurers are using lessons learned from the creation of cyber liability policies and are applying it to robotics coverage, Kyte said.

“The robotics industry has been very safe for the last 30 years,” RIA’s Doyle said. “It really does have a good track record and we want that to continue.” &

Juliann Walsh is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]