By Doug Markham, Chief Operating Officer, Wisedocs
Back in 2017, Stanford computer scientist Andrew Ng compared the spread of artificial intelligence (AI) to the development of electricity. “Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago,” Ng said. “Today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years. Electricity changed how the world operated. It upended transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare. AI is poised to have a similar impact.”
In the years that followed, Ng’s prediction has certainly proven true. Technology is changing the game in almost all occupations, and MIT researchers now say the future of AI is the future of work. 32% of global technology leaders across major industries plan to increase the amount they spend on AI tools, and a Deloitte survey of workers’ compensation organizations (WCOs) around the world say they expect 80% of workers’ compensation claims to be fully automated in the future. The industry is ripe for change, but what will this shift look like?
Adapting workers’ compensation for a digital age
Workers’ compensation has been around since at least the 1800s, although some researchers suggest the field may be as old as writing itself: written tablets found in Ancient Sumerian civilization set out schedules of monetary compensation for injuries sustained at work almost as precisely as we do today. WCOs are present in nearly every industrialized nation, and making change to such a well-established institution isn’t always easy. However, it is certainly possible, and often necessary, to get technology involved.
Today’s tech has the potential to reshape every part of the workers’ compensation process. From triaging applications to adjudicating claims, much of what’s possible with AI is yet to be discovered. As these tools become more accessible to users across the workers’ compensation industry, their impact will become even more widespread—leading many to wonder about the ultimate outcome of such a change.
AI won’t replace workers (but it will make them faster)
As the study by Deloitte suggests, WCOs worldwide are prioritizing automation for processing claims. These organizations suggest that as many as 80% of claims can be processed automatically, with the remaining 20% (complex claims with a slow expected recovery or a low likelihood of returning to work) requiring greater manual involvement. These time savings also apply to medical or legal professionals, who can now process, digitize, organize, or analyze hundreds (or even thousands) of unstructured medical documents with AI. What would have been physically impossible for a human to process accurately in a short amount of time can now be done using technology. This means the doctors, nurses, and lawyers reviewing these documents can do this much more efficiently—meaning more claims are processed in less time through AI’s capabilities of readily capturing accurate data.
Injured workers achieve better outcomes with technology supporting workers’ compensation
There’s plenty of research to suggest that the shorter the wait time is between injury and treatment, the more positive the recovery outcome. Machine learning and AI means today’s tech is able to navigate pages of paperwork more quickly than a human can, and do so more accurately than ever before.
New technology not only speeds up the process, but frees up knowledgeable worker’s time for more complicated claims. The volume of cases, especially ones that require additional consideration either by a medical or legal professional, often means severely injured workers face a long wait. With artificial intelligence available to triage, segment, or automate part of the claims process, these workers can receive their proper care or settle claims in less time—leading to a more optimal recovery.
Organizations and employers will reduce paperwork (and costs) in the claims process
Unstructured medical documents have long been a barrier to automation, and many medical reports are still completed by hand. Physical documents, handwritten notes, or unstructured medical evaluations form the basis of a workers’ compensation claim— but they’re hard for traditional automation systems to process.
Machine learning tools like optical character recognition (OCR), and intelligent character recognition (ICR) can solve this problem. These technologies accurately convert these documents to digital files, which can then be sorted, organized, and analyzed by professionals more quickly than it was previously. This means fewer duplicates, more accurate information, and more efficient use of knowledge worker’s time. All of which means lower costs, swift care for the injured worker, and a better experience for everyone involved—no Sumerian tablets required.
About Doug Markham
Doug Markham is the Chief Operating Officer at Wisedocs. Doug is a healthcare and managed care industry veteran with over 25 years’ experience. Formerly of the IMA Group, he has worked with insurance carriers, TPAs, and government agencies nationwide.
Wisedocs is the medical record review machine learning software for insurance carriers, healthcare providers, laws firms, and TPAs. We serve the auto, liability, disability, workers’ compensation, tort law, and similar markets. Wisedocs provides an easy-to-integrate solution for improved accuracy and speed to deliver improved outcomes in the medical claims process.