Industry leader interview with Mark Stirrup, Managing Director of Corporé

What do you think has been the biggest challenge facing the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic?

As the country went into lockdown there was a significant drop in insurance claims with RTA and EL/PL claims in particular dropping off overnight. We had to rapidly react to balancing the resource across the team by flexing staff across service streams. Luckily, we had previously invested in multi-skilling many of the staff to accommodate volatility of volumes for referrals but we found ourselves load balancing on a daily basis in an extremely reactive way.

With Covid-19 in particular I think the broadest challenge for the entire industry has been moving to an effective and efficient working from home operation – and that’s something that many of our customers have found to be a real challenge. Some of the industry has undoubtedly been more prepared than others and as a result at times it’s been rather volatile. We wanted to help our customers make the transition as some were more prepared than others so we proactively increased the amount of time engaged in dialogue with our contacts which yielded good results.

Understanding their challenges and creating solutions to assist with problem-solving and providing enhanced support to face the challenges together has really struck a chord with those customers who required additional help.

What’s the biggest challenge that Corporé and TTN have faced so far?

We had two key challenges that we had to adapt to rapidly as the business model switched to a remote working scenario.

The first was maintaining service delivery and performance – we faced the same challenge in a very similar vein to how the entire industry had to adapt, as I mentioned earlier.

We quickly adapted our management approach to ensure that we could maintain quality and productivity in operations moving to daily reporting and video meetings. We also introduced staff and management briefings at least weekly along with daily one to ones and group sessions.

As a result of this we developed a suite of new reports that allows daily performance monitoring across every facet of the business – from referrals to operational processing to finance.

The second challenge was to adapt our service for remote provision and ensure that Injured Parties continued to access high quality case management and treatment, and insurers continued to benefit from being able to mitigate the cost of claims. Together with the clinical team we built a remote Immediate Needs Assessment (INA) process allowing case managers the ability to progress an Injured Party’s (IP) case prior to a face to face visit. This allowed for us to get a head start on developing appropriate treatment plans and relationship building with the IPs.

This model has proved to be very successful with Psych and Physio cases in particular.

For existing case management clients, we had the challenge of reassessing and adapting their rehabilitative goals in the context of unprecedented circumstances, as their treatment plans were obviously impacted with the closure of many medical facilities.

What has been most surprising about lockdown/Covid-19 interruption to business?

Who knew we could move so quickly!? We certainly demonstrated that we were agile adapting as we did! I must say that witnessing the senior team stepping up to the challenge was very gratifying and we’ve all tuned in to this new way of working together.

From a case management perspective I was surprised at how effective the remote INAs have been. Case Managers helped to develop it and therefore have adapted and embraced it to the point that they see it as a tool that can be used again in the future where clinically appropriate.

That said, the front line staff were also fantastic and we’ve uncovered some real stars who have performed exceptionally well and noticeably raised their profiles to management.

What have you personally found to be the biggest challenge?

Personally I found the initial period of the Covid-19 crisis, just before we went into lockdown, a struggle because we didn’t know what we didn’t know because the circumstances were so – forgive my use of this much overused word – unprecedented.

We had to move at great speed to adapt several areas of the business not only to ensure we didn’t impact service to our customers, but also ensure we were not carrying excess cost and capacity. The sharp ‘V’ we predicted in our financial modelling initially seemed to be playing out as expected, which gave us some reassurance however clearly now we’re experiencing a much slower than anticipated economic recovering from lockdown.  To be honest, the furlough scheme has been a lifeline for us and will allow us to return to business as usual from July onwards in a more flexible fashion as the market recovers.

We now have the agility and experience of reallocating resource and being much more flexible, so the furlough scheme suits us very well at the moment as our daily management enables us to adjust the resource levels to match demand.

Is there anything positive that has come from this?

I have to say the biggest positive has been the development of the suite of daily reports that allows us to manage resource and performance on a daily basis. Irrespective of what tomorrow holds, we’ve made the decision to keep the daily reporting to highlight performance at an individual level and maintain that flow of engagement with team members about their performance.

We’ve also definitely become more sensitive to market changes and developed a level of agility which will allow us to accommodate the wildly varying needs of our customers as they too experience change.

For us, the legacy of this will be enhanced operational efficiency that will stand us in good stead for the future.

How are you personally managing working from home?

As we prepare to open the office again, I’m back working in the Liverpool office overseeing the implementation of new safeguarding measures. We’re currently trialling a new one-way system and installing markers on the floor, so right now it’s myself and a small group of staff that I’m affectionately referring to as ‘The Pioneers’ in the office. They’re really happy to be back in an office environment for the social element as much as giving their day some structure, but it’s optional and those working from home can continue to do so if they wish for now.

When I was working remotely I did stick by some golden rules for homeworking, such as:

  • Structure your day
  • Get up and walk around every now and then
  • Take 5 mins – have your lunch and breaks as normal if you can
  • Step out of your environment to step back into your personal life, otherwise you run the risk of them merging together.

How are you supporting your people with their challenges?

First and foremost, we’re all listening and talking to each other much more than before and far more frequently with more one-to-ones. The use of video calls has become common practice and because we have so many remote workers, such as case managers, this will be adopted going forward as it certainly helps people feel part of the team and even more supported, which is great news.

The office is now open for those who wish to come back to an office environment and we’re also promoting our EAP for anyone experiencing mental health issues. We repeatedly recirculate the scheme details so the access to clinical support is there for those who feel they need it.

What are you most proud of in meeting all the above challenges?

Definitely the way in which team has responded across the board at every level.

I delivered a presentation the week before lockdown and asked people to step up and by and large that has been heeded. We have to remember that we’ve got staff of all ages – including some young members who don’t watch the 10 o’clock news and hadn’t really fully grasped what was about to happen. They weren’t thinking about the potential business ramifications. We fired them up with passion and optimism and reassured them that we had a robust financial plan, which we’re now ahead on. By keeping people informed and engaging with them we’ve now found we have an informed, inspired workforce with a renewed sense of loyalty and work ethic.

If you could have given yourself one piece of advice in January 2020, what would that have been?

I think the main piece of advice I’d have given myself would be that Risk Management is a core business discipline often undervalued and overlooked.  The main components of this, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans, are there for a reason!  As such, having these plans in place along with the ability to be flexible and agile across the business is critical for long term success.  Thank goodness we had them in good shape and were able to invoke them overnight on 23rd March!

Mark Stirrup is Managing Director of award-winning rehabilitation case management company, Corporé, and treatment and diagnostics provider, The Treatment Network. Headquartered in Liverpool’s business district, Corporé has been a leading provider of case management to the insurance and legal sectors for almost 25 years and last year won Claims Initiative of the Year at The British Insurance Awards for its rehabilitation work with the Grenfell Tower survivors.

To learn more about Corporé, click here

For us, the legacy of this will be enhanced operational efficiency that will stand us in good stead for the future.

Mark Stirrup, Managing Director of Corporé


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