By Porter Leslie, President, Ametros
Workers compensation is an industry ripe for innovation. And, while some may see a sector that is slow to evolve, there are green shoots of modernization across the industry. In addition, quite a few high-tech, innovative companies are devising ways to improve or even leapfrog archaic processes altogether.
Incorporating new technologies and innovating is not something that happens overnight. It is situational; it is in the details; it’s the result of hard work and baby steps toward a big goal.
For those looking to disrupt the status quo and propel their companies forward, here are three essential tips for fostering innovation:
1. Empower smart people that have the confidence to fail repeatedly
An innovation team needs to reward original thoughts but also be bold enough to challenge each other. Finding the right folks and building a cohesive team can take time. At Ametros, the leaders of our innovation team each worked previously at multiple startups – some successes and failures. When I asked them, what was most important driver of innovation, they shared “it all boils down to our people” and “our team’s ability to fail fast.”
Companies can tend to staff existing employees on large change projects out of convenience, but this may be a bad fit for their skills/personalities and lead to a poor outcome. Dedicate time to make sure you’ve got the right resources assigned. Sometimes the best professionals are employed elsewhere or in other industries or geographies. Consider creating teams that work remotely and fostering collaboration online with tools like Slack and Sococo.
Failure is an option. A redeeming quality for an innovation team is to appreciate failure. Celebrate the team’s commitment to an idea even if ultimately it didn’t work out. The goal is to share your ideas because you never know when a small idea can have a big impact. It reminds me of the simple lesson of one of my favorite children’s books: “What Do You Do with an Idea” by Kobi Yamada. I’ll sometimes share it with new members of our team.
2. See the BIG PICTURE. Don’t linger on the exceptions.
If you home in on the solution first, then you can match the tech to fit. Inspiration for new solutions can be grown out of hard work and trial/error. They can also be found in other industries. Step back from the specialization of workers compensation and often other industries provide a nice roadmap of where to go next. For example, paying attention to travel/hospitality companies in how they cater to individuals may provide examples of practices to put in place to cater to injured workers.
For any great idea, there is going to be an exception or limitation that will happen a small fraction of the time that will create a problem. To move forward, it’s important for the team to have perspective of which issues are significant in contrast to issues that are so small that they can be dealt with later; in other words, it’s helpful to “see the forest for the trees.”
Sometimes the most frustrating part of new product development or making a change is to accept that you can’t examine every detail and see all the possible outcomes. You will only have limited perspective initially. There are going to be questions you can’t answer and some things that will go wrong. You need to “live it” and pilot the project and get input through iterations.
3. Let the BEST system win and don’t fear integration.
There may be one comprehensive product that solves multiple issues for you. More often than not, there are discreet solutions specific to each of the issues you’d like to solve. Coupling together different products and vendors that are best-of-breed can allow you to build a more powerful mosaic of services.
This approach can be especially helpful when improving business process and workflows. Building a new module might be appealing, but first find out if there’s a need for it. There are numerous plug-and-play “software as a service” (SaaS) products in the market that can help companies quickly experiment with certain tools and services. Some may be robust enough and modestly priced to stick around for the long run, while others may just provide the team with ideas of what they need to build.
Try piloting new SaaS tools to see how they can help your services; for instance, live-chat tools, business intelligence tools, telehealth platforms, marketing and text message automation systems, workflow reporting tools and even some robot process automation tools may be able to enhance existing systems.
Integrations with many of these tools is often assisted by the vendor themselves or there is a way to demo the solution in a “sandbox.” Don’t let the fear of a “big integration” be a reason that you don’t check out a solution that could have an even bigger impact on your bottom line.
I am confident there is a lot more innovation to come to the workers compensation industry – with benefits to come from more “big data” analysis, wearable safety sensors, mobile apps, and artificial intelligence automating tasks, just to name a few. We are seeing significant innovation in the settlements space our company focuses on, such as algorithms predicting claim settlements, platforms to present settlement proposals and tools to help parties evaluate future medical needs, among others.
One thing is for sure – innovation does not just happen magically. On each of these ideas, professionals are hard at work testing ideas, tinkering with products and trying to forge the best path forward. I’m excited for what’s to come.
About Porter Leslie
As President of Ametros, Porter Leslie directs its growth and works with its many partners and clients. He built his career leading customer-focused businesses in the healthcare and financial services industries. Prior to Ametros, Porter worked in investment banking, private equity and corporate development.
Porter earned a BA in Economics from Columbia University, as well as an MBA from the Wharton School and an MA from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Porter is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and resides in Boston with his wife, Ruth, and son, Camilo.
Ametros provides settlement solutions for the administration medical settlement funds. Over the past nine years, Ametros has built, from scratch, the nation’s largest technology-enabled administrator in the country. The innovation team at Ametros has had the honor of partnering with almost all the workers compensation industry’s largest payers, vendors and attorneys to find ways to new ideas to the claim settlement space.
Headquartered just north of Boston in Wilmington, Massachusetts, Ametros offers injured parties (its “members”) patented medical administration tools and reporting, automated payment technology, and access to significant healthcare discounts for pharmaceuticals, provider visits, and medical equipment, in addition to live phone/email/chat support from its dedicated care advocates teams. Ametros’ core products, CareGuard and Amethyst, enable members to approach settlement with confidence and security. Ametros’ services are frequently useful for settlement recipients needing help administering a Medicare Set-Aside, but can be used to help administer any allocation of self-pay medical funds. Learn more at: www.ametroscards.com or by calling 877.275.7415.