By Ron Skrocki, Vice President, Product Management and Development, GENEX Services
Although social media has not been widely embraced across the workers’ comp industry as a top resource for news, the first-ever workers’ comp Twitter Chat tested a new channel for communicating, educating and stimulating ideas among industry participants. Could we, as an industry, replicate the popular panels at national conferences, in a real-time, interactive way that is broadly available to all?
Convening a panel of top thought leaders including Mark Walls, Bob Wilson, Stephen Sullivan, Roberto Ceniceros and Melinda Hayes, we decided to test this idea to create a much-needed instant form of dialogue between work comp subject matter experts and industry participants at large.
What We Learned
In a discussion limited to 140 characters a thought, many insightful points were raised an engaging discussion ensued. If you missed the inaugural Twitter Chat you can view the entire discussion at http://info.genexservices.com/workcompchat, but here’s a brief synopsis of the top points.
Panelists generally agreed that concerns of an aging workforce are two-fold. The experience and knowledge residing with tenured individuals has not effectively been imparted to younger professionals, which could significantly impact future growth and productivity. And then there is the physical effect of aging that adds complexity to claims. Integrating wellness, job design and ergonomic programs can make a big difference in helping today’s older workers and those who will be 50s in the next 5-10 years. Participants added that improved recruiting efforts will be necessary to bring new leaders into the workplace.
Turn Big Data into Better Outcomes
The issue here isn’t the lack of big data in workers’ comp, but the challenge of using it to improve outcomes. A major obstacle in making big data more useful in workers’ comp is the industry leaders’ reluctance to share this important information to promote much-needed changes, the panelists said. Risk & Insurance’s Ceniceros questioned whether workers’ comp has “figured out big data,” how to use it, and questioned “where are the outcomes?”
State legislative efforts such as those in Oklahoma to opt out of workers’ comp in an effort to improve the system brought the biggest outcry from our panelists. Wilson of workerscompensation.com argued that “exclusive remedy is threatened by three things: degraded benefits; assigning blame in a no-fault system and; increased co-morbidity/social burdens on employers,” while Ceniceros questioned whether the decline of exclusive remedy is “more hype than reality.” Walls countered by saying “If the recent Oklahoma case stands, it undermines their entire WC system. When you get into courts anything can happen.”
Psychosocial Factors in Case Management
In determining how workers’ comp is addressing psychosocial issues as a barrier in managing claims, the concept of the “whole worker” and the importance case managers seeing the whole picture was put forward as a necessary approach to improve outcomes. It was widely agreed that mental health stigma remains a problem for injured workers and an individual’s own concerns and personal situations may not be classified as psychological conditions but are absolutely a factor to consider.
Containing Disability Costs
On the topic of disability management, early return-to-work programs and proper assessment of medical, vocational and ergonomic needs were top of mind. This includes the need to influence injured workers away from the disability mindset. Employers also play a role in assisting with proactive prevention, ergonomic redesign or new job training.
The last question of the chat focused on the ever-challenging issue of opioid management. With the lack of real change, the focus should be directed toward detox and pain management programs — as Walls tweeted, “Can’t just stop rx with no alternative.” One of the ways to do this, Sullivan said, was to continue developing what Michael Gavin of Prium has called “guidelines that matter” — specific, based on clinical evidence, and tied to reimbursement.
Til We Tweet Again
While it was a challenge to address issues in 140 character statements, #workcompchat proved that social media does indeed have a place in the workers’ comp industry. Not only was the chat a great way to share ideas and network, but it was also fun and engaging.
We hope you’ll join the next #workcompchat in early May, which will focus on issues discussed at RIMS 2015. Until then, keep the conversation going at #workcompchat.
About Ron Skrocki
Ron Skrocki, Vice President of Product Management and Development, manages the product leaders for the disability management and medical bill review services. Additionally, Mr. Skrocki directs the developers and analysts associated with customer-facing applications, including secure web tools for customer reporting, case management, and medical bill authorizations.
Prior to joining GENEX in 2004, Mr. Skrocki held national level leadership positions in business and product development, sales, and operations. His more than 20 years of industry experience spans the information technology sector specifically related to data management and systems development.
After graduating from Philadelphia University with a bachelor’s degree in business management, Mr. Skrocki earned a master’s degree in computer science from Villanova University, Philadelphia.
GENEX is a WorkCompWire Ad Partner.
This is not a paid placement.