Honing In on Our Partners: The Australian Private Hospitals Association

Medical & Health
The Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) is the peak national body for private hospitals in Australia. As APHA’s Insurance and Risk partner, we spoke to CEO, Michael Roff about the network’s evolution, and the challenges they anticipate for the term ahead.

 

THE CRUX OF APHA?

Ensuring the ongoing sustainability and continued development of the private hospital sector in Australia.

 

REFLECTING ON THE LAST 5 YEARS, HIT US WITH APHA’S TOP 5 MILESTONES.

  • Securing a $1.3 billion private hospital COVID viability guarantee from the Commonwealth Government.
  • Addendum to the 2025-2025 National Health reform Agreement to limit public hospitals harvesting privately insured patients at the expense of public patients.
  • Participation in Private Health Ministerial Advisory Committee to deliver key private health insurance reforms including instant upgrade for mental health, improved transparency in private health insurance products, youth discounts and Second Tier default benefit.
  • Development of the Private Psychiatric Hospitals Data Reporting and Analysis Service with funding from the Commonwealth Government.
  • Development of the APHA Benchmarking Service of key private hospitals outcome measures.

 

AT HONAN, MAINTAINING QUALITY CONNECTIONS WITH OUR PEOPLE, PARTNERS & THE COMMUNITY SITS AT THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO. WHAT RELATIONSHIPS & CONNECTIONS HAVE BEEN CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF APHA IN RECENT YEARS?

APHA benefits from its good relationships with both sides of politics (i.e., major parties). We are also in regular contact with the key players in Government departments, other industry stakeholders including doctors, health fund suppliers among others, and of course our own members to ensure we are representing their interests.

 

THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT INCREASES TO THE COST OF PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE OF LATE, WHAT IMPACT DO YOU SEE THAT HAVING ON THE PRIVATE HOSPITAL NETWORK?

Actually, the last two years have seen the lowest premium increases for around 20 years.  However, with the costs of providing healthcare increasing, this means health funds have a reduced capacity to compensate hospitals for their cost increases. This is further exacerbated by COVID-19 requirements which have further increased costs and reduced levels of activity.

 

WHAT ARE THE TOP 3 CHALLENGES THE PRIVATE HOSPITAL NETWORK IS FACING, POST-PANDEMIC?

  • “Second Wave” health insurance reforms, including prostheses and out-of-hospital care.
  • Health insurance membership and implications for costs and revenue.
  • Vertical integration (health insurance entering the health care provider market).

 

INNOVATIVE CULTURES AND A COMMITMENT TO ONGOING EVOLUTION ARE COMMON HALLMARKS OF SOME OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ORGANISATIONS TODAY. WHERE DO YOU SEE PRIVATE HOSPITALS IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS? 

The private hospital sector is a strong and vibrant part of Australia’s health system, providing high-quality services to the majority of the population. Australia’s private hospitals take pressure off an already over-burdened public health system, as evidenced by the work done to support the public sector during COVID-19, particularly during Victoria’s second wave. This role will continue to grow and develop, in part due to the improved relationships and understanding built during the Pandemic.

 

 

 

Discover more in our Partner Q&A Series: Bowens

When Broker is Best: why medical indemnity insurance warrants informed advice

Insurance Updates

For registered medical professionals within Australia, medical indemnity insurance is mandatory. And so it should be – a doctor’s professional reputation is integral to their ability to practice. Unfortunately, however, not all medical indemnity policies are created equal. A sound policy takes careful consideration and close consultation to develop and must be ready to respond to the unique risk profile of its holder.

Right now, many policies held by Australian practitioners have been placed without adequate consideration or advice, which means in a time of need, the policyholder is often left uncovered and exposed to significant risk; financial and reputational. 

Many doctors deal directly with an MDO (Medical Defence Organisation) when securing their indemnity insurance, and it is common for them to retain the same provider throughout their career. Such loyalty is not simply attributed to policy satisfaction, but a perceived difficulty associated with changing providers. As we outline below, however, medical professionals should tread carefully when it comes to indemnity insurance, and quality advice plays a major role in this. 

 

WHY IS MEDICAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE ADVICE IMPORTANT? 

Each MDO has a unique approach to both appraising the risk of its customers (doctors) and servicing them during a claim. From our experience at Honan, it is not easy for doctors to access clear and transparent information relating to all policy options available to them. Partnering with a broker helps to ensure all key information has been disclosed, and the policy offers robust, truly purpose-fit coverage for their role. Sadly, when challenged with this request, direct providers will typically refer their clients to the terms and conditions of the policy.

At Honan, we partner with medical indemnity insurers to provide outstanding protection and service for specialists. They are all backed by Government schemes including the Department of Health’s Run-Off Cover Scheme, High-Cost Claims Scheme, and offer ‘first time in’ private practice discounts, which remain with the doctor in the instance of transferring policies or moving providers.

 

PREMIUMS FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS – CHANGES AFOOT 

There are several upcoming industry changes set to impact premiums for doctors. As the Federal Government looks to reduce its support of certain schemes, our Honan team is here to provide clients with clear information, options, and advice.

Our clients in the Australian medical space have benefited greatly from our services which include:

  • Complimentary market analysis – often identifying areas for improvement
  • Advice on individual circumstances as a specialist
  • No additional charges on insurance premiums
  • Access to Honan Private Client team for personal insurance
  • Clarity around retroactive cover and ROCS
  • Yearly policy reviews on renewal
  • Obtaining group discounts on insurance
  • Free access to the EIDO Healthcare system which provides capabilities like information to be sent directly to patients pre-procedure, as well as digital consent functions. You can read more about the capabilities and benefits of this technology here.

 

WITH YOU ALL THE WAY

To find out more about Honan can support you with your individual or practice-wide medical insurance needs, please reach out at any time.

 

Trent Woodward

Head of Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

 

 

Discover the latest health and medical digital innovations delivering big wins 

Digital Innovations Bring Big Wins for Health & Medical

Medical & Health

If there is one good thing to have come out of the pandemic, it is how quickly the medical industry has adopted new technologies to improve the patient experience. From Telehealth to digital prescriptions, these tech solutions are all designed to enhance care and convenience. Recent digital innovations are also improving access to quality health care. In remote and regional Australia, where wait times are excessive in comparison to major cities, tech now allows the Royal Flying Doctor Service to track each flight in real time. The ability to map weather conditions and flight schedules now means hospitals are far better placed to commence patient care as soon as the individual arrives.  

For providers, leveraging the potential of digital technology to elevate the patient experience not only helps attract and retain more patients, but it has the potential to reduce the likelihood of wrangling medical malpractice complaints.

 

INFORM DIGITAL: OPTIMISING PROCEDURE PREP FOR PATIENTS & PHYSICIANS 

I have recently discovered an amazing tech solution which will further enhance the patient experience by providing detailed, easy to understand information for pre-operative care. The Inform Digital solution gives patients a simple step-by-step explanation of the procedure they are about to receive – all on their mobile phone. The system also has digital consent functionality, allowing the patient to provide informed and considered consent.

This system represents a significant opportunity for medical specialists and medical facilities within Australia. Once the consent process is finished, a report is sent to the physician or facility which highlights the amount of time spent completing each section, allowing the physician to follow up with the patient prior to the procedure. This tech solution is a major step forward in the delivery of information to patients and has the potential to reduce medical malpractice claims, language barriers, and ensures patients have access to relevant information. I can see this tool becoming a real point of difference for specialists and hospitals and impacting the way individuals and facilities are rated from an insurance risk position, with positive implications for their premiums. 

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AI?

Developments in the medical tech space are seeing the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in IVF and radiology, enabling greater efficiencies and precision in diagnosis. We are seeing more general practices provide holistic, market-leading patient experiences. For example, mobile applications are increasingly being used to help patients manage their treatment plans in real time.

 

THE FUTURE IS NOW

These advancements in medical treatment do not just exist in the future, they are happening now. The opportunities and efficiencies offered by these tech solutions present a major point of difference to the facilities and practitioners who embrace them. Improved patient engagement will lead to better treatment outcomes which, in time, can benefit the whole community.

 

 

WITH YOU ALL THE WAY

 

Trent Woodward

Head of Health & Medical 

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

 

Learn more about postponed treatment plans and delays in diagnostics. 

Critical Cover for Cyber Crime: A Healthcare Imperative for 2021

Medical & Health

From an insurance standpoint, I’ve not witnessed a more challenging year than 2020. The bushfires of 2019-20 shook us to our core, and then COVID-19 hit. The resulting uncertainty has made it extremely challenging for businesses to regain solid footing. Concerns about revenue streams, staff wellbeing, and future forecasts swiftly became, and continue to be, boardroom imperatives. As health providers begin 2021, now is the time to pause and check critical insurance blind spots*, particularly cyber.

 

Cyber Crime: Healthcare’s Blind Spot

While most businesses traditionally focus on the core structures of their insurance programs such as property, professional risks, and equipment, 2020 saw more complex risks arise as a result of blind spots. Often seemingly minor, ‘blind spot risks’ are not always obvious, but certainly becoming more frequent and damaging, particularly to balance sheets. One of the most common blind spots I witness in healthcare businesses, is cyber crime, estimated to cost Australians $300 million each year.

2020 also saw the first death recorded as a result of cyber crime; a shocking precedent, which may signal a trend of worsening attacks on the medical industry, especially hospitals. Last November, the ACSC (Australian Cyber Security Centre) issued a warning to Australian healthcare providers about the rise in similar incidents, and a recent report on ransomware in Australia identified health as the most targeted sector, ahead of Government, education, transport and retail (shown below).

 

Figure 1: Top sectors impacted by ransomware as reported to the ACSC FY 2019-20

Source: Australian Cyber Security Centre, 2020.

 

Cyber Crime: What’s Your Response Plan? 

While I see a vast array of medical facilities in my role, my priority question for each of them remains the same “Do you have a Cyber Response Plan?” – a query typically met with “No” or “I think we have a policy”. Alarmingly, operating without an official Cyber Response Plan is equivalent to leaving the doors wide open when you’re not home. Cyber criminals do not discriminate based on victim circumstances, and to be blunt, they do not care. Knowing full well it may endanger lives, hackers will go as far as locking a hospital’s operating system, and demand a financial ransom to unlock it.

 

Cyber Protection: Where to Start?

Having a Cyber Insurance Policy is a great starting point for healthcare providers, but knowing how that Policy will respond, and what it will respond to is critical.

While many insurance brokers and underwriters are quick to mention Cyber Insurance, I believe there’s never been a more critical time to elevate Cyber Policy conversations. For healthcare providers, cyber cover should be considered a business-critical inclusion in their broader insurance portfolio, as early in discussions with brokers as possible.

The onset of 2021 marks an opportune time to revisit all blind spots in your business insurance portfolio. A robust policy portfolio will not only help protect your business, your people, balance-sheet and reputation, but your patients too.

Please contact me for further support at any time, or contact your preferred medical cyber insurance specialist to establish a clearer understanding of your risks.

 

*Keep an eye out for insights on other insurance blind spots in our future publications.

 

 

We’re with you all the way

 

Trent Woodward

Head of Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

 

Discover more about how cyber insurance works in this case study on Australia’s education sector.

You can read more about the importance of cyber insurance here.

The Cost of COVID: A Note on Personal Health – Do Not Delay!

Medical & Health

Whilst COVID-19 continues to command considerable presence in daily media and our everyday lives, the concerning longer term implications of postponed treatment plans (such as radiology and/or chemotherapy) and delays in diagnostics is being flagged by medical specialists across the world. This is especially the case in Victoria, where Stage 4 restrictions have seen patients commencing new or pre-planned treatments decline significantly. 

Delays in surgery and regular check-ups have also become a concern. A recent study by the Institute of Cancer Research (UK) investigated the impact of three and six month delays to cancer surgery on patients’ five-year survival rates.  The results were staggering.  As an example, modelling revealed a three-month delay across all 94,912 patients who would otherwise have had their cancers removed over the year, would result in an additional 4,755 deaths. These findings certainly have the potential to be extrapolated to other populations like ours here in Australia. 

Taking into consideration a 2020 forecast of 145,000 new cancer diagnoses in Australia – the majority of those being breast or prostate – the window between initial diagnosis to treatment is critical to patient remission rates. From 2012-2016, the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined was 69%. Every month a cancer goes undetected not only lowers the rate of host survival, but adds further strain to the health system down the track. Generally speaking, the later the diagnosis, the longer, or more intense, the treatment plan is likely to be.

Understandably, the greatest volume of information around COVID-19 thus far has been about the Virus itself, but as a community, we must also consider the considerable knock-on effects for patients, practitioners and our health system over the years ahead. A wave of delayed treatments now will result in a wave of implications later … and certainly not pleasant ones. 

There has already been some great investigative journalism carried out by the likes of SBS around what needs to change now, and how we can start planning for a smarter future health system. For those keen to dig in, Surviving the Virus: My Brother and Me is well worth a watch. 

In parallel, there is equal concern around the long-term health prospects of COVID-19 survivors. Ongoing symptoms akin to stroke and cardiovascular problems have already been documented. At the time of publication, we’ve had nearly 27,000 diagnosed COVID-19 cases, with over 24,000 ‘recoveries’ in Australia. These are substantial numbers, and ones we’ll need to take seriously as assess our health sector’s capacity to cope. 

Short term thinking is not the answer here. While the economic impacts are perhaps easier to identify and document in the here and now, personal impacts over the years ahead are unclear, and could certainly be much worse. Just as we’re witnessing mental health ailments at unprecedented levels, delayed diagnostics are following suit. And at what cost?

The conversation, I believe, needs to shift to post-pandemic matters. In Australia, we’re in a privileged position. We have some of the world’s best doctors, nurses, hospitals, and medical infrastructure. We must review how our health system has performed, and what we need to change or start doing to ensure we’re truly future-fit. A group of Victorian Doctors are agitating for such consideration; writing an open letter to Daniel Andrews with numerous powerful points. While the true cost of COVID-19 is impossible to calculate right now, the more we can urge each other to avoid delays to personal treatments and act on our health ailments now – lockdown restrictions permitting – the better.          

 

We’re With You All The Way

 

Trent Woodward  

Head of Health & Medical 

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

Challenge, Community & Opportunity: Could Covid be the reset we needed?

Medical & Health

I recently read a fascinating article by McKinsey about how prioritising health could rebuild the economy post-pandemic. Like any disaster, the rebuild brings opportunity alongside hardship. How we learn from such times of challenge not only builds our resilience, but also knowledge. Whilst Covid-19 has undoubtedly wreaked havoc on individuals and businesses across the globe, it has equally provoked exceptional developments. At breakneck speed, we’ve reshaped ourselves. Personally and professionally, we’ve become enlightened on how to do things differently, and better, in the future.

The past few months have taught us a lot. As a country, we are stronger for the experience and will be stronger in future. We’re focusing more on community; protecting our individual health, but also being mindful of the health of those around us. 

More than ever, we know a collective approach isn’t just better, but the only way forward. Businesses have zoned in on resilience-building capabilities; understanding healthy people and teams must come before profit. With a market-wide approach to prioritising the employee, economies now have the potential to reshape and recover stronger than ever. 

This virus has also challenged our approach to care, particularly for those most vulnerable, or typically marginalised. As the data continues to highlight, high-risk groups like the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, or within low-income households, are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has further exposed deeply rooted social disparities which continue to exist the world over – glaring gaps inherent in ‘developed’ nations who should, by now, be far further evolved.  

How we learn and grow from here is critical. While we all face uncertain futures, and we know this is even more apparent for minorities. A greater focus on the health of people regardless of race, religion or economic standing will provide greater tolerances in the future. With younger generations watching how we lead through this – here’s hoping we’ll gift them a future marked by a truly people, community and health-focused way of life.  

As we rally for the second half of 2020, let’s not let this virus infect our spirit. Instead, let’s take heart from the exponential learnings, progress and innovations already achieved. In the local health sector we’re already reaping the rewards of a rapid TeleHealth and digital prescriptions rollout, and patient management systems have been transformed by the integration of data analytics. Hospital workforces are now better equipped to cope through peak periods than ever before. Open access to live data and case tracing has been a huge advantage for us here in Australia, helping us to isolate cases as quickly as possible. Longer term, the surge in research and med-tech funding across 2020 is set to deliver incredible returns.

As a nation, I’m looking forward to seeing how we seize the many opportunities brought about by this wild virus. If we’re truly prepared to work together, to care for all members of society through a community-wide approach, our health, wellbeing and economy will enjoy worthy returns for years to come.

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Health & Medical

Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

The Right Advice for the Road to Recovery: Indemnity Insurance Advice for Medical Physicians

Medical & Health

Recent months have brought relentless uncertainty and change to our lives, and the world of medicine has been far from immune. With the gradual resumption of elective surgeries, some promising winds of (more) change have surfaced, but for the majority of physicians, the question of “When will my business return to pre-pandemic levels?” remains. With surgical admissions sitting at record-breaking lows, and FY21 looming, the need for sound advice on individual medical indemnity policies has never been more critical.

 

I’m a medical practitioner…

How does indemnity insurance advice work?

Medical defence organisations within Australia (MDO) Avant, NDA National, MIPS, MIGA are only permitted to provide general advice. The onus of responsibility is on the practitioner to ensure they have the correct billings, and they declare their activities correctly. If such details are incorrect, the practitioner’s policy may not respond.

 

My revenue has plummeted – how should my insurance respond?

In recent months of lockdown, many specialist practitioners have experienced major reductions in revenue, with no clear sign of when this might abate. Accordingly, now is the time for practitioners to review their indemnity insurance cover and revisit the market to secure a policy truly tailored to their ‘new norm’ needs.

 

Should I go direct to insurers? 

Liaising directly with insurers can be problematic for practitioners in the following ways:

  • Missing out on policy features or incentives from other providers which might be better suited to their operations
  • Failure to update their underwriting information, which may result in gaps in cover due to the following:
    • Increased or decreased billings are often unaccounted for on renewal policies and simply ‘rolled over’ on expiring terms
    • The practitioner’s billings in the Public and Private sector not being correctly allocated
    • A practitioner’s ‘retroactive’ date may be incorrectly recorded or amended over the years without them knowing
    • The practitioner’s work/category of practice may have changed over the insured period
    • An inadequate appraisal of key considerations such as whether the doctor is performing tasks outside of categories stated on the policy, or whether they have plans to move into a new category over the coming months. 

 

Cashflow management

Healthy cashflow is critical to any successful business, so it’s important to understand the options available to support your financial viability through this phase. A robust cashflow management plan will provide the critical foundations from which your business can function, survive and potentially even thrive through COVID-19 and beyond. As businesses continue to face challenging financial circumstances, efforts should be made to avoid paying large insurance premiums upfront. We recommend exploring all options with your broker to secure the best solution for your business through 2020 and beyond.

 

I’ve been with my insurer for a while – won’t they reward me for this?

Unfortunately loyalty does not always equal enhancements. We often see little to no flexibility on premiums, or hidden clauses within policies which don’t favour the practitioner.

 

Won’t changing providers be a headache? 

Many practitioners fear switching providers due to potential penalty, but this is one of many myths around the process which deserve debunking.

 

What are my options? 

Medical indemnity products in Australia offer fantastic coverage for doctors. Whilst the coverage options are quite similar, slight nuances in policy wordings can make a huge difference. How MDOs handle claims is an equally critical consideration; without adequate discretion, detail and care, a practitioner’s reputation and / or future earning potential can be quickly compromised.

 

General vs specialist insurance advice…

As with medical advice, the quality of advice available to support practitioners with their insurance options varies greatly. Working with a trusted, specialised broker can not only deliver a sharper, truly tailored policy for your business, but peace of mind. General advice is general, and if doctors are looking for more certainty in uncertain times, a medical indemnity specialist means you have a powerful asset at the ready.

 

Honan – Specialist advice 

At no additional cost to practitioners for the individual medical indemnity, Honan is proud to offer a range of services to support medical physicians with their insurance. From individual medical indemnity insurance to life and salary protection, we also offer medical providers unlimited access to our private client division for assistance with general insurance as well. A one-stop shop means our clients receive top advice, certainty, and it saves you time and money.

Our appraisal of your business will include a detailed report of our recommendations, including a forensic analysis of wordings and claims management for each provider. We’re a completely independent, objective broker committed to serving the best interests of the medical physician at all times.

 

With you all the way

From understanding the challenges faced by medical physicians, and advising on how to prepare for the future, we are only a call or email away.

Our Honan team is ready to support you with a comprehensive review of your individual medical indemnity policy, to mitigate your risk and secure the cover you need to operate with confidence through the months and years ahead.

We look forward to working with you.

 

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Client Service (SA) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

Industry Leader – Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

Powering Up & Switching Off: 4 Tips for #ISO Survival

Medical & Health

Imagine this: you wake up in the morning, you shower, get dressed and promptly head out the door for work.

Now this: you wake up in the morning, you reach for your phone, open your inbox and so begins the working day …

 

With #isolife now in full swing, the former may now seem like a distant memory. Between new competing demands, new environments, and new office comrades (ahem, family), the lines between ‘work-work’, ‘home-work’, and genuine downtime have never been more blurry. At times you may even feel the lines between morning, afternoon and evening barely exist. So how on earth do we maintain productivity? 

At Honan, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Here are our top 4 tips for powering up, and switching off through this wild and weird world of #iso.

 

1. Start with space

The first few #iso weeks were a major adjustment period for most of us, with fundamentals of mere survival occupying most of our thinking. “Do I have what I need?”, “Am I feeling ok?”, “Is my wifi working?” “Have I been hygienic enough?” 

Because we are context-based creatures, our physical space is core to our ability to function well. For this reason, we have encouraged our team to find a designated workspace within their home. While not all of us have the luxury of a discreet ‘home office’, setting a specific space on the kitchen or dining table offers a structured place to ‘set up station’. If you shift to working from the couch or bed, you’ll quickly associate those spots with work. Our Workplace Risk team recently hosted a webinar on workspace safety and working ergonomically, complete with a ‘working from home’ checklist. Give it a shot.

 

2. Write a daily routine

Working in an office means you benefit from a tacit structure or sequence to the day. In psychology, this is called an ‘initiation’ sequence – it gets the brain ready to focus. Having a simple start-up routine, such as sitting in the same spot, checking your emails, saying ‘hi’ to your team over chat, signals the beginning of your day. 

Similarly, we have kept our usual company check-ins and meetings consistent in the calendar, yet fluid in their delivery. Just as they would in the office, our team meetings and briefings are attended with rigour and respect. We are also encouraging our people to take regular breaks, ‘rise and recharge’, and even join us for a weekly virtual HIIT session.

 

3. Staying accountable and connected

It’s only human to struggle with accountability when working remotely. It can be difficult to demonstrate our output, or even convey our emotional state when not in the physical presence of others. At times, isolation can hit us in ways we don’t expect. Grief might kick us in the guts one day, and nothing but smiles the next. That’s why checking in with your colleagues is so important. Just because your workmate was great today, it may not be the case tomorrow. At Honan, we’ve implemented a Buddy Program to ensure all staff have someone to reach out to with the good, the bad or the ugly – day in, day out.

Recognition is equally important when working remotely. At Honan, we’re fortunate to have a leadership team with a well-oiled practise of congratulating, and thanking colleagues for great work. The simple act of celebrating the wins and recognising the accomplishments of your subordinates goes a long way. It can turn their day around, galvanise their faith in the business, and mobilise energies for future efforts.  

 

4. Time for tools down 

Social connection is extra welcome through times like these. We’ve been using the lightness of laughter to wrap up each week with a company-wide Zoom meeting. This ‘tools down’ ritual has quickly become a weekly highlight, and brought us closer together than ever. Whether it’s a ‘power up’ or ‘tools down’ initiative, brand rituals are a simple but powerful way to maintain motivation and connectedness amongst your people. Our Friday afternoon sessions are also our time to announce the winners of our weekly working from home contests; which have ranged from creative rounds of charades, to promoting each other’s wellness activities.  

 

We’re with you all the way

As always, we’re here to listen, advise and support you through this time. To further support you and your people through #iso, here’s a few of our recommended resources:

 

Australian Psychological Society – Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

Gallup – How to Keep Remote Worker Wellbeing High

Gartner – 9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

 

Navigating a New ‘BAU’: Key Impacts & Opportunities for Australia’s Healthcare Industry

Medical & Health

These are unprecedented times for almost every industry, and perhaps none more than healthcare. For this critical community backbone, the ‘return to normal’ is unknown – we’re not clear on when it will arrive, or what it will look like. 

Private hospitals and day surgeries have been impacted by COVID-19 in many and varied ways, and while the resumption of elective procedures from April 28 is a positive step, this next phase will also bring new challenges. 

In the following article, we’ll share 4 key tactics to support healthcare providers and practitioners in their return to a different kind of ‘BAU’, together with some new opportunities on the horizon.  

 

Review Procedures & Risk Management 

With constantly changing external conditions (economic, health, legislative and more), now is the time to review risk management procedures. Whilst the world has taken a social-distancing ‘step back’, business risks remain, and may even increase. In cyber crime, for instance, we’re seeing unprecedented activity across all sectors, and the medical industry is no exception. To support providers in reviewing their online systems and processes, we’ve assembled some tips and resources to mitigate cyber risk exposure

Alongside digital platforms, healthcare providers should review further areas of the business such as workplace risks, together with Director and officer or management liability exposures. Following these reviews, healthcare providers should action amendments or upgrades to relevant systems accordingly.

 

Staff Wellbeing

Your people are undoubtedly your biggest asset, which from a risk perspective means they can also be your greatest liabilities. With a daunting list of unknowns and uncontrollables to navigate, anxiety and stress is sky high across the community. Businesses must be mindful of such pressures and ready to support their people through them. Regularly checking on your team’s wellbeing can make a significant difference in their capacity to cope through challenge and change. Read more about how Telehealth and Employee Assistance Programs can help to support your people.

 

Cashflow Management

Healthy cashflow is critical to any successful business, so it’s important to understand the options available to support your financial viability through this phase. A robust cashflow management plan will provide the critical foundations from which your business can function, survive and potentially even thrive through COVID-19 and beyond. As businesses continue to face challenging financial circumstances, efforts should be made to avoid paying large insurance premiums upfront. We recommend exploring all options with your broker to secure the best solution for your business through 2020 and beyond.

 

Build Strong, Sustainable Relationships

Through this time, the relationships you hold are more powerful than ever. As the saying goes, ‘your network is your net-worth’, and in times of crisis, this rings truer than true. When it comes to tackling unchartered waters, be sure to review your network of current providers, collaborators and brand allies alike. Which ones are qualified, ready and willing to support you through this chapter? Which ones will deliver you the greatest return, and which ones truly know your business, your people and pressures? Maintaining regular contact with your network, and establishing clear, consistent lines of communication will offer invaluable counsel and confidence to both sides through COVID-19. If you’re not comfortable calling on your network at such a time, then a solid relationship audit and / or ‘connection cleanse’ is likely in order. It might even be time to rebuild your list of brand buddies. 

 

New Opportunities

There’s nothing quite like a global crisis to ignite rapid innovation. The significant challenge and change faced by the medical industry in recent months will also pave way for exciting opportunities. The fast tracking of Telehealth is a powerful initial example of this, with a further extension of the platform – electronic prescribing – set to come next. This new Federal Government initiative works by generating a QR code which is sent directly to a patient’s device for use. In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Health has expedited the launch of electronic prescribing, with an anticipated ‘in practice’ rollout by May 2020. This digital innovation will bring valuable operational efficiencies to sectors such as Aged Care and Pharmacy

In recent months we’ve also seen incredible investment in the global medi-tech industry. Such funding – particularly toward digital therapeutics – is tipped to bring a renaissance to the sector, with exponential returns for sufferers of common conditions like Type 2 diabetes, autism, addiction, and musculoskeletal injuries to name a few. 

 

With you all the way

From understanding the challenges faced by your business, and advising on how to prepare for the future, we’re only a call away. Our Honan team is ready to support you with a comprehensive review of your business, to mitigate your risk and secure the cover you need to operate with confidence through the months and years ahead. 

 

Please reach out – we’d love to hear from you. 

 

 

Trent Woodward – Head of Client Service (SA) – Corporate Insurance & Risk Solutions

Industry Leader – Health & Medical

trent.woodward@honan.com.au

COVID-19: Business Interruption, Contingency and Workplace Risk

Agriculture

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the Coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. We sympathise with everyone who has been impacted by the virus and Honan Insurance Group have implemented additional resources and contingency planning to ensure that we remain able to provide advice, insurance and support to our clients as the situation develops.

 

As the impact of COVID-19 on local and international economies continues to evolve, we highlight to all clients the need for management to consider financial, strategic and business risks to operations. In this article, we examine the key areas we have received the most queries about: Property and Business Interruption, Business Contingency and Workplace Risk.

 

Industrial Special Risks* (Property and Business Interruption) Insurance & COVID-19 

(Potential Policy Response under ISR Mark IV Policy)

It is expected that many businesses will suffer disruption as a result of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).   With the situation changing rapidly and restrictions on the movement and gathering of people (both at local level and internationally), there is no doubt many companies will suffer from loss of revenue and/or additional expense.

 

Property Damage

Generally, property policies (including office risks) cover physical loss, destruction or damage to insured property resulting from a covered peril (all risks).  In the case of the Coronavirus, the ISR (Mark IV) policy exclusion 4(a) excludes physical loss destruction or damage occasioned by or happening through disease.  Office-related risks also have very similar exclusions. The ISR policy can include a myriad of endorsements with some coverage writebacks for costs to clean-up a site (where required by order of a public authority), however, this would need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

Business Interruption

An ISR insurance policy extends to include under Section 2 coverage for business interruption.  This cover traditionally applies only to interruption caused by an insured material damage event such as fire, storm, impact or accidental damage.

In addition, cover is extended to include closure of the business by public authority for several risks including human infectious or contagious diseases.   This coverage was designed to cover events such as an outbreak of Legionnaires disease or measles which could affect one or two buildings and a small number of businesses.  Some ISR policies can extend to provide coverage for outbreaks in a 20-50km radius from the insured location.

Specifically, in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ISR policy contains a specific exclusion for loss resulting from interruption of or interference directly or indirectly arising from or in connection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Humans or any other diseases declared to be quarantinable diseases under the Quarantine Act 1908 and subsequent amendments.

Following the H5N1 virus (avian influenza) outbreak in 2006 and the H1N1 virus (swine influenza) outbreak in 2009, insurers adopted this exclusion as a market standard position in Australia.

The Australian Quarantine Act 1908 was replaced by the Biosecurity (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Act in 2015.  COVID-19 was added to the Act as a listed (quarantinable) human disease on 21 January 2020, under Biosecurity (Listed Human Diseases) Amendment Determination 2020 (Cth) F2020L00037.

 

Listed Human Diseases under the Act are thus now:

  • Human influenza with pandemic potential
  • Plague
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome
  • Smallpox
  • Viral haemorrhagic fevers
  • Yellow Fever
  • Human Coronavirus with pandemic potential

As a result of the above, the business interruption section of your insurance will not provide cover for COVID-19 disruptions. As with any other threat it is important to consider what risk management measures you can introduce to mitigate the risk to your staff, customers and business.

 

Risk Management Tips: How to avoid infection

Here is a short list of ways to minimise the spread of Coronavirus

  • Practice good personal hygiene.
  • Avoid contact with anyone with or suspected of having Coronavirus.
  • Boost your immune system by eating well, exercising, having enough sleep, and keeping your stress levels under control.
  • Cancel or delay any travel until the crisis is over.

 

Recommended Actions for your organisation:

  • Implement a home quarantine regime for anyone that has travelled to an infected country or is likely to have been in contact with someone infected with Coronavirus.
  • Review and update if necessary human resource (‘HR’) policies on fitness for work including possible quarantining of employees and formalising the requirement for employees to remain off work if affected.
  • Consider or extending flexible working arrangements to reduce the likelihood of the spread of the virus in the workplace or the community.
  • Update travel rules and arrangements limiting non-essential business travel.
  • If not already in place, provide sanitized hand washing stations for use by staff and visitors.
  • Review arrangements for workplace hygiene and cleaning protocols including “cough and sneeze” etiquette.
  • Protect the mental wellbeing of employees concerned about the Coronavirus.
  • Ensure clear and honest communication to employees on their welfare.

 

Keep Informed

Everyone should remain alert for updates and advice from the relevant authorities on additional steps to manage the spread of the disease. The health department in each state is providing excellent resources and advice and regular updates. Before travelling, check for and take the advice of any travel warnings on smartraveller.gov.au.

 

Business Continuity Management Planning

A pandemic is just one risk facing modern organisations.   Having a fully documented and exercised business continuity management plan is important for every business.  Honan has resources to assist you in developing a business continuity plan and please speak to your Client Manager for further information.

*Property/Office/Business Interruption

 

Business Contingency

The Coronavirus may impact revenue for businesses through:

  • Production slowdown & disruption to workforce (sick or quarantined employees)
  • Disruption to Supply chains and supplier services
  • Decrease (or increase) in demand for stock
  • Large scale closures of consumer markets and public spaces due to quarantine
  • Delays in customers paying outstanding invoices within normal trading terms
  • Economic slowdown on global and local scale

 

Whilst there is coverage available under Corporate and Business Travel insurance policies in certain circumstances, there is limited cover available under most standard General Insurance policies for loss of trade and interruption to business operations.

As a general rule, it is not viable for most insurance markets and products to cover “global pandemics” as an insurable event. This is because the financial impacts of a pandemic are not quantifiable, meaning risk cannot be priced accurately or sustainably by insurers. If you do suffer a loss, please contact our team to discuss the specific circumstances and how your policy may respond.

Whilst insurance cover availability may be limited, businesses can prepare.  We would strongly recommend formation of a working committee to evaluate the impact to business as conditions continue to evolve, with accountability to the board or executive team.

 

Considerations for a COVID-19 working group should include:

  • Review of policies, procedures and protocols in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees and prevent further risk of spread of COVID-19 within the workforce and community.
  • Assess venerability of IT Infrastructure (including stress-testing) for an organisation’s ‘Work from Home’ capabilities in the event of premises closure/staff quarantine
  • Consider the impact on supplier and customer contracts to meet delivery/service obligations from both parties (how Contractual Penalties & Force Majeure clauses may be applied)
  • Evaluation of possible supply chain disruptions and how these can be mitigated or bypassed through appropriate work arounds and contingency planning
  • Evaluation and stress testing of stock levels and planning for inventory shortage as supply from China recommences operations
  • Review ability to support alternative revenue streams that are not as severely impacted by COVID-19
  • Review communications with key customers and other stakeholders to maintain relationships and manage challenges in a sensible, commercial & collaborative manner
  • Review credit and debt facilities to ensure that cash is available in the short term to manage financial impacts and support increased business restart
  • Communicate with creditors if a reduction in revenue has the potential to impact on cash flow and financial obligations.

 

 

Workplace Risk: Workers’ Compensation and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

There has been much discussion around the exposure and potential liability under Workers’ Compensation should an employee or contractor contract Coronavirus.

As outlined by Safe Work Australia (2020), Workers’ Compensation arrangements differ across schemes, however there are common threshold requirements that would apply in the case of COVID-19:

  • that the worker is covered by the scheme, either as an employee or a deemed worker
  • that they have an injury, illness or disease of a kind covered by the scheme, and
  • that their injury, illness or disease arose out of, or in the course of, their employment.

Compared to work-related injuries, it is difficult to prove that a disease was contracted in, or caused by particular employment. In the case of a virus such as COVID-19, establishing the time and place of contraction may become increasingly hard. We have sought clarity from our legal partners and obtained publications from the governing state regulators. Their view is it will be challenging to prove workplace exposure to Coronavirus as questions will arise as to the exact time and place of contraction.

For coverage to exist, a determining authority would need to be satisfied that the employment significantly contributed to the employee contracting the virus. For viruses, it can be difficult to accurately determine the exact time and place of transmission. As a result, it may be difficult to determine that employment significantly contributed to the virus.

However, where an employee’s employment puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus the significant contribution test may be easier to meet. For example, if the employment involves:

  • travel to an area with a known viral outbreak
  • activities that include engagement or interaction with people who have contracted the virus
  • activities that contravene Department of Health recommendations.

Each workplace illness would need to be considered on its individual merits, having regard to the individual circumstances and evidence in relation to the claim. More information is available here: Comcare Australia.

Deeming an illness or disease as work related and unique to the workplace may require court intervention to distinguish medical opinion from legal facts. There is no liability determination available to declare an illness or disease compensable or non-compensable; each case is determined on its own merits and circumstances.

Although you may not be able to eliminate the potential risk of employees contracting Coronavirus while carrying out work, you must do what is reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of employees contracting Coronavirus.

 

Coverage while travelling overseas for work

Any liability or workplace contribution applies to both employees working overseas and those working within Australia. Each case will be determined on its own merits and circumstances.

Note: For international employees engaged locally, state or country specific legislative conditions will apply. Queries should be directed to Honan. Depending on the state of urgency, travel restrictions and periods of self-isolation may need to be considered and communicated to all employees and contractors.

 

Employer Support

It is important that employers refer to internal policies and procedures to ensure measures for employee safety are in place. Honan has resources to actively advise on Workplace Risk exposure, as well as Legal and Work Health and Safety partners who can assist with ongoing management of this changing environment.

 

All companies will need to keep up to date in what is evolving environment.  Please see below some resources to do so:

Australian Government Department of Health

Safe Work Australia

Smartraveller

McKinsey & Company have released a briefing paper (9th March 2020) which provides some insight into possible global economic impact as well as some common steps that can/need to be taken in preparation for businesses being affected and the formation of a working group: link here.

For any additional queries or concerns, please contact your Honan client manager.

 

*Property/Office/Business Interruption

The advice in this paper is general in nature. While the utmost care has been taken in the preparation of this preliminary advice or opinion, you use it at your own risk.

If you have difficulty reading and/or understanding the cover provided in the policy(ies) that you have please contact your Client Manager.

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