By Kathy Tazic, Managing Director, Client Services, Sedgwick
Every day, workers’ compensation professionals interact with people who have had something unexpected happen to them at work — a slip and fall, a violent trauma, musculoskeletal damage, exposure to a harmful disease or toxin. That illness or injury becomes a claim that must be handled in accordance with various organizational guidelines and jurisdictional regulations. Beyond the points of contact that must be made and the boxes that must be checked, there is a person in need of care. What was once viewed as a potentially adversarial process and considered to be driven by cost containment has evolved into an opportunity to advocate for and show empathy to the people who make organizations great: their valued employees.
There is a strong push in the claims world for the adoption of new technologies and data science techniques to enhance our business processes and customer experiences. While it’s easy to look to the transformational power of data and technology, we must not overlook the irreplaceable and well-established value of people and partnerships.
In an effort to strike the right balance, Sedgwick has adopted a people first, tech forward and data driven approach to claims.
- People first: Our mantra that “caring counts” rings especially true in the workers’ comp arena. When an employee is injured or ill, it’s our collective responsibility to make sure they have the resources needed to recover and return to work — to listen to their concerns, act with empathy, set expectations, and assist at every turn.
- Tech forward: We aim to offer technology-enabled solutions that keep pace with and mirror experiences in other areas of life. Our clients’ employees have high expectations of the web experiences and online tools available to them as they navigate their workers’ comp claim. We also must keep in mind that the value of technology lies in the ways it supports people; technology for the sake of technology gets us nowhere, and insurtech can’t succeed without a human touch.
- Data driven: A claim is a unique item from a data perspective. It has fixed, structured elements and a lot of associated transactional information. We have an extensive and diverse set of claims data, and we strive to make it meaningful for our clients and their employees. With the right kind of analysis and application, data can power decision-making, automation and improved outcomes. Claims data can be used to identify patterns, predict behaviors, and prescribe actionable takeaways. Leveraging data gives us the opportunity to be more holistic and to drive faster resolution and overall satisfaction.
Technology use is driving the evolution of many long-established workers’ comp claims handling models, and organizations should be prepared to embrace these newer modalities. Communications methods are a great example. The traditional three-point contact rule — with the examiner reaching out by phone to the injured/ill employee, the employer and the treating medical provider within 24 hours of the incident — is a cornerstone. However, connecting by phone is becoming much more difficult, as many won’t answer calls from unknown numbers to avoid spam. We can no longer rely on the one-size-fits-all approach of the past and need to adapt accordingly. Process modernization means that texting, emailing, or messaging online via secure portals may become our new standard for making initial contact; such approaches empower employees to select their preferred means of communication, which may prove to be even more effective in reaching people where they are — both geographically and generationally.
Another workers’ comp area in which we’re seeing a sizable shift is the incident reporting process. While we traditionally receive notification of a new claim from the manager of the injured/ill employee, a growing number of organizations are now allowing employees to self-report. Since members of the workforce have self-service capabilities in so many other areas of their lives, they naturally expect to have similar options at work. These developments give employees access to a more holistic claim experience right from the start. We’ve seen from our work with clients that giving employees the ability to self-report — whether they opt to speak with a person or use technology — significantly improves turnaround times and satisfaction with the process. It also speaks directly to a forward-thinking organizational culture of caring.
Openness to these kinds of changes yields better results for employees and organizations. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that shifting our attitudes and adapting proven practices does not mean sacrificing quality. Any “new and improved” process should be held to the same high standard as the one that came before it. Even if the environment has changed, workers’ compensation must remain focused on measurable outcomes and the needs of the human being at the center of it all. Claims technology is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means to strengthening our connection to the person we’re taking care of and their experience in interacting with the workers’ comp system.
People first, tech forward, data driven.
Next week, I’ll explore some ways that Sedgwick is using technology to enhance the workers’ compensation claims experience we offer our clients’ employees and how you can bring these ideas to life in your organization.
About Kathy Tazic
Kathy Tazic is managing director of client services at Sedgwick. In this role, Tazic is responsible for program results and service execution across Sedgwick’s customer base; this includes technical execution and ensuring that results continue to improve. A Sedgwick colleague since 1991, she has held a variety of positions at the company, including client consulting director, national workers’ compensation practice leader, program architect and operations manager. Tazic is a recognized industry thought leader and regular contributor to the Sedgwick blog and prominent trade publications. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois – Urbana.
Sedgwick is a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions. We provide a broad range of resources tailored to our clients’ specific needs in casualty, property, marine, benefits, brand protection and other lines. At Sedgwick, caring counts; through the dedication and expertise of nearly 30,000 colleagues across 80 countries, the company takes care of people and organizations by mitigating and reducing risks and losses, promoting health and productivity, protecting brand reputations, and containing costs that can impact performance. Sedgwick’s majority shareholder is The Carlyle Group; Stone Point Capital LLC, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Onex and other management investors are minority shareholders. For more, see sedgwick.com.
Sedgwick is a WorkCompWire ad partner.
This is NOT a paid placement.