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
Topics: The Profession

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.

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

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?

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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?

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?

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]

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