by Gerald Zarlengo, MD, Chairman & CEO, COPIC Insurance Company
Featured in the November-December 2019 Colorado Medicine Colorado Medicine.
As I near the end of my first year as COPIC’s CEO, there are a few things on my mind. Foremost is recognizing the remarkable support I have received from those around me. They have made my transition into this role possible, and I am inspired by their dedication to improve medicine and the different ways they do this.
What have I learned in the past year? My journey has taught me just how interrelated the various aspects of health care are. I knew this at a certain level, but didn’t fully understand and appreciate it until I became CEO. A strong and stable health care environment requires a commitment to patient-centered care, evidence-based guidelines, patient safety measures, access to quality care, and support for those who provide care. All of these elements are connected, and when broader decisions about health care are made, we need to consider how each aspect affects others.
I’ve also realized the footprint of impact COPIC can have. As one who likes to use metaphors, I would say that when I was at my OB/GYN practice, my efforts to improve patient safety were akin to using a paintbrush – precise and focused. Now, at COPIC, I feel I am using a larger paint roller to contribute across several areas beyond clinical practice such as public policy, regulatory matters, and the business of health care.
Several times, I was also reminded of an important lesson – the value of keeping my mouth shut and really listening to what others have to say. In health care, we are surrounded by smart, compassionate leaders who will tell you what you need to know. Their insight is integral to how we look forward and deliver on our mission to improve medicine in the communities we serve.
As we prepare for 2020, the following are some key ideas that will be guiding COPIC’s efforts:
Continue to be at the forefront of state-level health care issues — In 2019, we faced several legislative challenges that connected to the foundation of health care in Colorado. These included the Colorado Professional Review Act and Colorado Medical Practice Act. The involvement of COPIC and our partners on these issues contributed to positive outcomes, in particular, the passage of the Colorado Candor Act. This process highlighted the importance of stakeholders coming together based on aligned interests, rather than standing apart because of perceived differences. The Act brought us together because it was about advancing patient safety – a shared belief that we can all get behind.
Enhance our resources with guidance designed for different medical specialties — Physicians know that there are common risk management guidelines that apply to all specialties, but they also need to know how to address the challenges that are specific to their specialty. COPIC stands in a position to help identify what these are based on our claims data and experience. This knowledge creates opportunities to work directly with physicians to develop resources tailored to their specialties.
Explore ways in which we can help support quality improvement — One of COPIC’s roles is to serve as a hub that identifies and shares best practices across all aspects of health care. This includes an enhanced focus on proactive efforts that can be implemented to prevent adverse outcomes, not just reactionary steps to take after issues arise. The programs and resources we offer can have a direct impact on medical outcomes, and this, in turn, allows us to play a role in supporting quality improvement.
As a company, we have a commitment to our insureds along with a commitment to our community — A company’s success is not just based on positive financial results. Since COPIC was founded, we have embraced the values of community engagement and service, and in 2019, we were named an honoree of The Civic 50 Colorado (by CSR Solutions of Colorado in partnership with Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service). The award recognizes COPIC as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in Colorado based on corporate citizenship and how we use our time, skills and resources to impact local communities.