COVID-19’s Lesson for Managing Legal Risk: Tough Times Demand that You Cut to the Chase (Part 3 of 3)

The Point

The chief clinical officer of a 51-hospital system:

  • “We are now leveraging telehealth technology in ways that will last long after this pandemic.”
  • “The severity and suddenness of the Covid-19 emergency have hastened changes in how we deliver care.”
  • “Things we’ve been trying to accomplish for years all happened in the last six weeks.”


So wrote Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence, a Catholic not-for-profit health system with 51 hospitals, in the Wall Street Journal, on March 28, 2020 (subscription required): “After the Pandemic, A New Frontier for Medical Technology: Telehealth Systems are Growing Rapidly in Response to the Crisis”.

Her essay is well worth reading as a lesson in how to make things better before an emergency forces one’s hand.

And it recounts how the urgency induced by the pandemic sped-up these efforts:

“Long before Covid-19, our team had created a strategic plan called “Clinical Care 2030” to use technology to provide personalized, affordable care by the end of this decade. Those priorities are suddenly on the fast track ….”

“Covid-19 has created a global crisis, but it has also fueled a sudden leap toward the future of medicine. Across the country, we are driving changes that will bring better health care to everyone once this nightmare finally ends.”

This three-part series of posts is written with the following question in mind:

Will businesses’ experience with COVID-19 prompt their leadership to rethink the way they manage legal risk?

While we are still in the midst of its devastating impacts, COVID-19 reminds executive management of two stark realities that never really go away — but that the disease should prompt them to think about:

1. Prevention of catastrophe beats even the most dramatic rescue; and 

2. The fact that next quarter’s P&L might not support expense levels planned at the beginning of the year counsels an uncompromising fight against waste anywhere — including in the legal budget.

In the next post I’ll describe some promising developments among lawyers and others involved in legal service delivery that promise innovative efficiencies unknown in the current status quo.

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