The Profession

Mary Anne Hilliard

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 Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]