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The Profession

Jeffrey Driver

After witnessing the aftermath of medical error firsthand, Jeff Driver dedicated himself to reducing risk and promoting prevention in health care.
By: | August 29, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Respiratory therapist at the Cleveland Clinic.

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

When I worked as an orderly at an inner-city hospital in Cleveland, my team experienced the trauma of medical error involving a child. All my training hadn’t prepared me for that — for medical error and its causes, its scope, its prevention. As a result, I became a patient representative, and shortly thereafter, a risk manager.

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

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We’ve adopted enterprise risk management nicely.  And while that’s a good holistic strategy, I don’t think it’s the silver bullet. We need to continue to work on risk management effectiveness.

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

Using technology to collect and analyze data to quickly implement safety interventions. In short, prevention.

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

Probably adopting new technology. Other industries have been quick to do so — AI for example —  but we’re a little laggard at adopting technologies that are designed specifically for the health care space and managing risk.

Jeffrey Driver, CRO, Stanford University Medical Center and CEO, The Risk Authority Stanford

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk and cyber threat.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

We engage with our brokers hand in hand, as a partnership. Our CEOs and team meet and work directly with underwriters on an annual basis all over the world.

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

Optimistic.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

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I’ve had many mentors over the years, but my first mentor, actually, was my first broker. Before I even became a risk manager, I reached out to her about an internship with her company and she went to bat for me. While I didn’t end up with the internship, I did end up working with her as my first broker. She took me under her wing and taught me the business. And while she’s now retired, we remain close.

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

I haven’t accomplished it yet. We’ve done a lot and there are many things my team has done that I’m proud of, but I feel like we can’t stop until we reach zero harm. And while that’s perhaps not entirely possible, we will continue to endeavor for it. I’m also taking a personal and active interest in suicide prevention.

R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?

200-plus.

“I love putting people together with complimentary skills and disciplines, and then helping to foster and focus those talents in a particular direction.”

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Field of Dreams.

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

Castello di Sinio in the Barolo wine region of northern Italy.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

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Nickle & Nickle Cabernet Sauvignon single vineyard designates.

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

The Czech Republic right after it formed as a democracy. This was in the ’90s, after the Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and a democracy and federalization deepened. The citizens were amazed at how Americans were living and beginning to embrace their own liberation. It was an amazing thing to witness.

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

Scuba diving.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The people reading this and the ones in our industry who never give up. The ones that want to learn more, and do better, and never stop reaching.

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

The thing I take the most joy in is bringing in teams of people to accomplish specific goals. I love putting people together with complimentary skills and disciplines, and then helping to foster and focus those talents in a particular direction.

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

I asked my daughter, who actually works within my company as a business writer. Here’s what she said: “What I see you doing is bringing together a team of bright, passionate, and talented people who want to make health care better in whatever way they can. You have a vision that unites them, one that embraces a diversity of strengths and strategies, which then accelerates the growth of innovation. I see you redefining what it means to be a risk manager in health care, and while complex, what it all boils down to is I see you trying to help save lives.”




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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”

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Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]