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Why Public Entities Need to Develop a Risk Management Implementation Plan Post-COVID

Although public health officials consider the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is now in the rearview, the global crisis nonetheless surfaced a myriad of flaws in the country’s crisis and risk management systems—critical shortcomings that local and state agencies have just begun to address. And while public entities may have comprehensive risk management measures in place, the efficacy of these controls was tested to their breaking points; suffice to say, failures during the height of the pandemic resulted in compounded crises and some cases, a breakdown in public health/safety systems. 

These COVID-period collapses and failures ultimately provide timely learning lessons that allow organizations to become more resilient in the face of future catastrophes.

A Global Breakdown of Public Health Systems

Public health systems and risk management measures in place across the globe were woefully unprepared to deal with a pandemic like COVID-19. For example, despite being one of the first nations to develop testing for COVID-19 in January of 2020, the U.K. was nonetheless hit especially hard by the pandemic; in fact, the country's pandemic response is considered one of its worst public health failures and is widely attributed to government communication failings and the inability of public bodies to share vital information.

Stateside, the CDC and local/state/federal agencies continue to face shortcomings in data quality and access that compromise their ability to chart vaccination rates and efficacy. A recent symposium hosted by Stanford Medicine saw leaders and experts from government, academia, health care citing public health under-investment as the main cause of the global community's sub-optimal network of patchwork systems.

Risk Management in a Post Covid-19 World

Risk management systems are designed to ensure that operations adhere to legal ordinances and maintain the safety of the community. While these systems’ management and maintenance typically follow a structured renewal timeline, lessons from COVID-19 point to the need for more urgent re-evaluations of active risk management implementation plans to account for the uncertainty of present times. Specifically, risk management platforms need to facilitate information sharing and streamline data handling/management in outbreak and epidemic management.

In contrast, many existing risk management systems experienced critical failures during the pandemic stemming from fragmented information-sharing efforts and data siloing, leading to delayed emergency response times and compromised public safety levels during crises.

The pandemic ultimately revealed that most state and local agencies’ public health and safety risk management systems continue to be highly fragmented, outdated, and in many cases held together by human efforts and manual processes. If left uncorrected, these issues may again result in catastrophic failures in hospital/medical systems, emergency services, and public health and safety controls during unprecedented surge periods and epochs of unanticipated demand for emergency services. For this reason, public entities should develop a risk management implementation plan that includes regular updates and testing to ensure optimal levels of resilience under extreme duress. 

The Importance of Updated Epidemic and Outbreak Management

Crucially, public agencies operating in the post-COVID world require robust risk management systems that are capable of consolidating various processes, programs, and data architectures into a unified platform for situational awareness. This requires the streamlining and unifying of manual disparate processes, de-segregation of information/data silos, and elimination of blockages/disconnects that result in delayed responses to public health incidents during widespread emergencies and times of crisis. 

Moving forward, systems will require updating to reflect the new reality of global pandemics, outbreaks, and public health crises—new scenarios that, moving forward, properly planned and tested risk management systems need to account for.

Best Practices for Developing a Risk Management Implementation Plan

In anticipation of future epidemics/pandemics and outbreaks, public entities should develop risk management implementation plans that focus on integrating disparate systems and processes into a single pane of glass for immediate, comprehensive situational awareness. These efforts should culminate in a platform that integrates disparate data streams and workflows for consistency, enabling better information sharing and the capturing/sharing of lessons learned. 

When deploying a new risk management solution, the implementation should be carried out by phase (e.g., problem screening, concept development, preliminary engineering, final design) to comprehensively account for design and integration considerations. To the extent possible, existing disparate systems should be integrated into a single platform, and the organizations' entire risk management framework/platform should be tested continuously for high availability, failover, and efficacy in handling simulated public health emergencies.

Taking The Lead in Risk Management

In short, public entities should develop and maintain a continuously updated risk management platform that enables proper information sharing/de-siloing, as well as the digitization of manual processes and streamlining of disparate data sources. To find out more, read Ventiv's client focus on Los Angeles County to learn how the nation's largest county implemented a single, integrated technology system combining all of its administration, risk management, and claims programs.


Apr 11, 2022

 | Originally posted on 

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