By Shane O’Dea, head of strategic partnerships and programs, workers compensation
As David Stills wrote in a previous blog, workers compensation is comprised of multiple state systems across the U.S., each with their own unique set of rules and regulations that are in constant flux.
The environment is relatively similar in Australian, New Zealand and Canadian and flags opportunities to learn and partner across geographies. The definition of compensability is continually evolving, and benefits are constantly changing — as are the needs and expectations of the injured workers and companies.
The Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) recently hosted their annual workers compensation educational conference where the industry exchanged ideas about how to improve workers compensation systems and the injured employee experience. As in years past, Sedgwick was an active participant — sharing some of the industry’s most advanced solutions and concepts within the workers compensation arena.
Not surprisingly, there was a packed house for the keynote about the battle for talent hosted by Sedgwick’s own Kimberly George and Safety National’s Mark Walls. This theme is resonating across international borders and is front of mind in Australia. Further, it will be a hot topic for discussion at PIEF, the Personal Injury and Disability National Conference in Brisbane, Australia October 10-12, 2022. Kimberly George will participate as both a presenter and panellist on the theme international perspectives and partnership.
When we work together under unique circumstances, the industry is stronger, and the injured worker experience is improved. This directly translates to the sector in Australia and sets the stage for the upcoming PIEF conference — with ongoing collaboration across the industry.
Examining medical care advancements for today’s injured worker
The medical care and recovery environment of an injured worker largely determines the outcome of a workers compensation claim. Effectiveness is driven by how quickly care is administered and the appropriateness of the treatment that is provided. Greater emphasis is being placed on providing more holistic treatment of an injured worker. The introduction of behavioural health specialists, pain specialists, and surgery nurses are being more widely adopted and embraced to improve experience and outcomes. Telehealth is making medical follow-up more convenient and increasing adherence to prescribed treatment plans. The importance of medical literacy is becoming better understood and there are increasing communications around treatment options, pre-existing conditions, current medications, and other factors that can impact recovery. When quality medical care is rendered, an injured worker is better able to focus on healing, recovery, and returning to an active and productive lifestyle.
Looking at ways to streamline the claims process to optimize outcomes and experience
A claims strategy with a strong employee focus is paramount in today’s competitive business environment. Impressions are formed at the time an incident is reported and continue throughout the recovery and return to work process. Individuals will note the urgency, compassion, and concern expressed in response to their injury, the communication and guidance they are provided throughout the claims process, and the degree to which a fair and equitable settlement is established. Employers must ensure their culture and brand are manifested in all aspects of the workers compensation process, particularly in their interactions with employees.
Focusing on data patterns, emerging trends, and specialty research to mirror future impact
Well-known industry specialists shared highlights from their in-depth analyses and research related to areas having a notable impact on workers compensation, including a highly acclaimed chief data officer sharing patterns detected in data and what these can indicate about future litigation and trends emerging from California research that relate to access to care and what they may mean for workers and businesses across the rest of the country. Data patterns, emerging trends, and specialty research of this magnitude are as close as it gets to mirroring future happenings.
The themes for Australian jurisdictions are well aligned with the challenges and opportunities for schemes and the array of sessions at the PIEF conference will continue the momentum.