By Dr. Jacob Lazarovic, Chief Medical Officer, MyAbilities
Wouldn’t it be great if employers had a crystal ball to know which workers would be most likely to be injured in a particular job? Think of the possibilities for companies. They could use this knowledge to:
- Hire the job candidate that is best suited for the physical demands of the position
- Provide training appropriate to the specific tasks of a job
- Make ergonomic improvements to minimize physical risks
- Undertake engineering controls to mitigate some of the higher-risk physical demands.
In short, they could take the guess work out of injury prevention and protect their most valuable assets: their employees.
The good news is, the future is now. An increasing number of companies in the U.S. and Canada are using state-of-the-art technologies to keep workers safe and healthy.
As the chief medical officer for a large third-party administrator for many years, one of the biggest frustrations I and my peers shared was the lack of adequate job descriptions. More often than not we would see notes on paper trying to describe a job. Calling them inadequate is an understatement. And often, there would be no job description at all.
The importance of job descriptions, or job profiles is far too often overlooked. Matching a job candidate to a position should be based on a variety of factors — especially whether the person is physically capable of handling the physical demands of the job. If not, you have a recipe for an injury — and a workers’ compensation claim.
Thankfully, the days of these deficient job descriptions being the norm are finally ending. Advanced technologies, such as video kinematics and artificial intelligence (AI), are now being used to create job profiles; explicit, detailed, quantitative, accurate job profiles. Thanks to technology, they can be digitized and securely shared among relevant stakeholders.
For example, our company has embraced the technology and to create a database of more than 32,000 jobs in virtually any industry you can think of.
The information that technology allows us to utilize for these job profiles is beyond anything we could have imagined just a few years ago. For example, a single job profile can tell you not only the overall physical demands but exactly which body parts will be used most. You can see how much arm strength is required to pull or push certain materials, or the leg strength needed for lifting or climbing in and out of vehicles. The details are nothing short of stunning.
The platform also uses a demand score from 1 to 100 that quantifies the physical demand of each job and compares it to other jobs in the company, in the industry and in the entire database.
Beyond written descriptions and the job demand scores, you can also see exactly how job tasks are accomplished. An employer can use a smartphone to take videos of each job, upload them into the platform, and include them in the database of every job in the organization.
Let’s say an employer is considering a candidate for a specific job. The person has the necessary qualifications and seems like a good fit. Using an older system, the employer would be inclined to hire the person and then be surprised six months later when he suffers a debilitating injury.
If this same employer had conducted a post-offer employment test using the latest technology, he would have learned that the person was physically not a good fit for the position. Perhaps the candidate has a weak shoulder and the position requires persistent, repetitive shoulder movements; or his feet cannot handle the constant walking on cement floors required. The results would inform the employer that putting the person in that particular job would likely be hiring his next workers’ compensation claim.
Another example of an injury prevention strategy using the technology is targeted fitness. The details of a job profile indicate which particular body parts are susceptible to injury for a specific position. Even if the POET indicates the person can physically handle the job, the employer can still implement exercises designed to strengthen the area that could be vulnerable to injury.
Workers can also be provided training so they perform their jobs in ways that protect them from injury. Simple, repetitive movements such as getting into and out of a truck throughout the day can take a toll on knees, backs and even arms. Armed with a detailed job profile that indicates exact areas of the body that can be impacted, an ergonomist or physical therapist can show the employee the best way to move and how to use various body parts to prevent injuries. The platform is especially helpful for returning workers to prevent them from reinjuring themselves.
Despite these innovative intervention strategies, some injuries will still occur. Next week’s article looks at the ways advanced technology can be integrated with evidence-based tools for better claim and medical management. Using automated, web-based applications that assess causation, psychosocial risk, and objective job-matching based on clinical assessments of physical abilities, it is now possible to return claimants to suitable work faster and more successfully than ever before.
About Dr. Lazarovic
Dr. Jacob Lazarovic is the Chief Medical Officer at MyAbilities, where he is responsible for the development of advanced, evidence-based clinical applications that enhance the performance and outcomes of claim and medical managers in the multiple market segments the company services.
Prior to his involvement with MyAbilities, Dr. Lazarovic served for 18 years as the Chief Medical Officer at Broadspire/CRAWFORD, a global third-party administrator of workers’ compensation, disability, auto, and medical product liability claims.
In his more than 35-years of medical administration/managed care experience, Dr. Lazarovic has also served as Medical Director at HealthAmerica, a staff model HMO; Medical Director at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida/Health Options; and Vice President for Clinical Affairs at Vivra, Inc.
In these positions, he has been responsible for a wide scope of medical services, including; network and business development and contracting, provider relations, utilization and quality management, medical cost control, and strategic planning. He has conducted and published original research and analytics and has presented at multiple industry conferences.
Dr. Lazarovic is a board-certified family physician, and experienced medical administrator. He completed his medical training and residency at McGill University in Montreal, and subsequently practiced family, emergency, and geriatric medicine while teaching in a residency program. He holds active medical licenses in both the U.S. and Canada.
MyAbilities is a technology company delivering workplace risk mitigation and injury management strategies using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robust data analytics.
MyAbilities develops software solutions to help employers assess their jobs, identify risk and prevent injuries using proprietary AI, computer vision, analytics, ergonomic risk analysis, and injury prevention strategies. Post-injury, MyAbilities support claim administrators with an evidence-based claim and medical management software for the resolution of injuries and illnesses in workers’ compensation, and disability programs to reduce costs of claims and expedites return-to-work. More information is available at www.myabilities.com.