From the Chief Medical Officer

CMO Reminiscing

At the beginning of the coming year (Feb.1), I will step down as Chief Medical Officer for The Mutual. This position will be filled by Deepak Chandwani, the current Vituity Director of Risk. So now, I will share some of my thoughts about the role and how The Mutual has supported all Vituity providers.

After stepping down as Vituity president at the end of 2013, Gloria Everett (CEO of The Mutual), asked if I would take on a brand-new role as Medical Director/CMO for The Mutual to enhance the service provided to the partnership. I agreed, but only for one year. Finally, after nine years, I am stepping away from the position.

During the past nine years I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the malpractice world. I met with other CMOs, regulators, reinsurers, industry executives, and of course, attorneys — all key players in the industry. With this background, we evolved the CMO role to best support our insured providers.

One large part of this role was education. I worked with a team to enhance the education we offer. The offerings include High Risk Series modules, and presentations to the general partnership at Vituity meetings and of course, the local site seminars. My personal belief is the local seminars are the most impactful educational component in reducing our providers’ risk. Any Vituity site may request a seminar, whether insured by The Mutual or not. This program has grown in size and sophistication thanks to Renee Bernard (VP of Patient safety) and Heather Weiss PA (Director of Patient Safety) as well as about 20 physician educators.

Another large part of my role is to strategize with our claims team and defense attorneys to assess strengths and weaknesses of malpractice cases — me sharing the physician perspective. I bring some more complex cases to a protected committee of other physicians to help assess the standard of care among other points in the case. Note this strategy helps with recommendations, though it is the involved providers who make the ultimate decision about whether to settle a case or fight it.

And finally, the most rewarding part of my role has been communicating with our providers navigating through the very unpleasant experience of a malpractice case or untoward patient care incident. I would not have continued in the role of CMO if The Mutual did not share with me this strong desire to help all our providers in any way possible. I have communicated with over 1000 providers (true) in my time as CMO to help them understand the adversarial legal process and if needed get them emotional support, so they can continue the important work of caring for patients in the best way possible — without overly worrying about a case and their career. In addition, I have discussed with many providers common but complex risk questions such as, how to document certain events, practices for family meetings after an untoward event, and potential for early resolution — before there is a lawsuit. So, as I step away and retire (for the third time), I hope I have helped those providers I reached and our Partnership. You all are the reason The Mutual exists.