By Jarrod Magan, VP Client Technology Services, Sedgwick
New technologies are reshaping the world in which we live. They take the form of self-driving cars, virtual reality, and 3-dimensional printers. Once thought to be cold and impersonal, technology is re-defining our expectations and how we view a quality customer experience. It is no surprise that new technologies are also reshaping workers’ compensation as we know it.
This series of articles is designed to look at how new technologies are impacting the claims process. The first article will highlight some of the newer technologies we’re seeing now – those currently being used or soon to be introduced – and how these innovations are impacting workers’ compensation today. The second article will take a more visionary approach and project some of the existing technologies, not currently being used in this industry, and discuss how they would impact workers’ compensation in the years to come.
The technology currently being used and the prototypes soon to hit the market are remarkable. As an example, technology is a dominant component underlying the advocacy movement in the claims world. As service providers work diligently to improve an injured worker’s experience and alleviate much of the accompanying uncertainty, technology is being used to provide information to injured workers more quickly and conveniently.
With the ubiquity of smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, injured workers are now empowered in the claims process. They have the ability to check the status of their claim and payment information in real time using self-service applications and can even report their own claims. To help keep injured workers on task, they can elect to receive medication or physician appointment reminders. Additionally, they can schedule a convenient time to meet with their examiner through software that supports appointment scheduling. They have the ability to exercise their personal preferences when contacting claims examiners or nurse case managers using mobile applications, text messages or chat capabilities. With convenient, easy-to-use applications, injured employees can also send important documents and photos to their claims professionals, thereby accelerating the claims process.
Complete paperless claims solutions are available, eliminating stacks of forms and paper to sign and exchange. Electronic signatures are available for settlements as well as to more conveniently support claim acknowledgements. Injured workers can sign up for direct deposit through mobile applications. Further, biometric authentication that simplifies the way employees sign up for and interact with self-service tools is becoming more refined; consider, for example, secure thumbprint recognition features integrated with the latest smartphones. Moreover, many offer voice-activated personal assistants that can be used to quickly locate the exact information being sought within these self-service applications. These technologies foster a more customized and immediate access experience for injured workers during what can be an unsettling and stressful time..
Similarly, technology advancements also benefit employers and claims administrators overseeing workers’ compensation programs. New technologies are allowing employers and claims administrators to streamline their processes and achieve higher levels of program efficiency. Increased efficiency allows additional resources to be directed where they will have the most impact – the injured worker. As an example, automated correspondence can be used for routine communications such as initial contact letters, allowing claims examiners to devote time to more challenging and impactful issues within the claims process. Additionally, rules engines can be established that direct workflow and send real-time notifications via text or email when triggered by specific claim events. Features such as these could allow risk managers to manage their programs without ever having to log into a claim system if desired. Through the use of these technologies, organizations have the potential of lowering costs, improving productivity and achieving higher levels of satisfaction among injured workers.
Telepresence and videoconferencing is now available to support claim reviews. These technologies can facilitate meetings and discussions among various stakeholders such as employers, claims professionals, case nurses, attorneys and others in remote office locations. Cloud-based access to claim detail adds convenience to claims professionals when working on multiple devices by providing the ability to start notes in one system and finish them later on a different device. Further, today’s technology provides the ability to access location surveillance videos and photos in real time. With the explosion of social media, employers can look for similar newsfeed-style interactions among various stakeholders in the claim process. There would be strong benefit to having a real-time and interactive exchange with all involved parties via a social media-like experience.
The technology available to capture, compile and analyze massive amounts of claims data is also growing rapidly. Today’s current technology allows for greater benchmarking visibility into how one program compares to itself over time, to direct competitors or even to its industry. This is made more effective through the use of easy-to-navigate data discovery and visualization tools. Tools such as these can support instantaneous self-service program analysis without needing to generate numerous, cumbersome reports. These easy-to-use tools provide the ability to uncover new insights through immediate, self-directed analysis and assessment as opposed to requiring the individual to have the hypothesis in advance.
The use of analytics is rapidly developing, expanding and exploding. In recent years, the industry has progressed from the application of descriptive to predictive and now to prescriptive analytics. In addition to common claim variables, predictive analysis can leverage text-mining techniques in examiner notes and loss descriptions. This enables claims professionals to identify higher-cost claims by surfacing details such as comorbidities, opioid usage or other significant elements not readily documented in a field. Prescriptive analytics allow companies to further harness the power of big data and prescribe corrective measures. For example, new technologies allow the use of machine or deep learning techniques to prescribe actionable measures in response to the data analyzed, as we can see illustrated by the example of self-driving cars. Where appropriate, the entire process can be automated in the instance of making nurse case management assignments, triggering prescription drug point-of-sale reviews or signaling the need for an immediate claim review.
Now is an exciting time for the industry. Both employers and employees are capitalizing on this wave of technological change with an eye toward improving the efficiency of the entire system. Technology is accelerating exponentially faster than at any time in our history and that trend is going to continue. In next week’s post, we will explore technology advancements on the horizon and project the impact they may have on the world we know as workers’ compensation.
About Jarrod Magan
Mr. Magan is Vice President of Client Technology Services for Sedgwick. In this role, Jarrod manages client system setup and client application use. Jarrod also has responsibility for the strategic direction of Sedgwick’s viaOne® suite of applications, which is Sedgwick’s client-facing application.
Jarrod joined Sedgwick in 2000 as a liability claims examiner in the Charlotte, North Carolina, office. Jarrod moved into Sedgwick’s system training group in 2001 in Memphis, Tennessee, and then served as a client technology project manager beginning in 2002. Jarrod’s primary responsibilities in this role were new client implementations and data conversions. Beginning in 2004, Jarrod managed Sedgwick’s Enterprise Reporting group, which also consisted of the data
warehouse application and its supporting colleagues. In 2006, Jarrod was named manager of the client technology implementations department, which consisted of Sedgwick’s client technology project managers. In 2008, Jarrod was named senior product manager of Sedgwick’s client-facing viaOne suite of applications. In 2010, Jarrod moved into a client-facing role as an account executive responsible for all aspects of client programs. Jarrod served a dual role in 2011 as he retained the account executive responsibilities in addition to leading decision system support.
Jarrod has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. is the leading global provider of technology-enabled claims and productivity management solutions. Sedgwick and its affiliated companies deliver cost-effective claims, productivity, managed care, risk consulting and other services to clients through the expertise of 13,000 colleagues in some 275 offices located in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The company specializes in workers’ compensation; disability, FMLA and other employee absence; managed care; general, automobile and professional liability; property loss adjusting; warranty and credit card claims services; fraud and investigation; structured settlements; Medicare compliance solutions; and forensic investigations. Sedgwick and its affiliates design and implement customized programs based on proven practices and advanced technology that exceed client expectations. Sedgwick’s majority shareholder is KKR; Stone Point Capital LLC and other management investors are minority shareholders. For more, see www.sedgwick.com.