Robert Wilson, President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and “From Bob’s Cluttered Desk“, wrote a very interesting piece today on his blog about how technology may make workers’ compensation a thing of the past, as technology takes over many of the jobs now performed by humans, especially those jobs that used to be done in the claims arena, and were middle class jobs. His article entitled, Will Workers Comp be a Casualty of Technology?, states that:
First there was outsourcing and offshoring. Now there is something I am calling Autosourcing. Companies and production are returning to the US, but the jobs are not returning with them.
He cites a study conducted by the Associated Press that found the following:
•Over the past 50 years, technology has drastically reduced the number of jobs in manufacturing. Robots and other machines controlled by computer programs work faster and make fewer mistakes than humans. Now, that same efficiency is being unleashed in the service economy.
•Technology is being adopted by every kind of organization that employs people. It’s replacing workers in large corporations and small businesses, established companies and startups, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and the military.
•The most vulnerable workers are doing repetitive tasks that programmers can write software for – an accountant checking a list of numbers, an office manager filing forms, a paralegal reviewing documents for key words to help in a case.
•Startups account for most of the job growth in developed economies. Thanks to software, entrepreneurs are launching businesses with a third fewer employees than in the 1990s.
•It’s becoming a self-serve world. Instead of relying on someone else in the workplace or our personal lives, we use technology to do tasks ourselves. This trend will grow as software permeates our lives.
•Technology is replacing workers in developed countries regardless of their politics, policies and laws.
What this means for workers’ compensation and for medical tourism in the future is this:
For the workers’ comp employee it presents potential double jeopardy. Not only will industry activity potentially be reduced by general automation across numerous sectors, but certain functions within the industry itself are being automated as well. There are jobs within workers’ comp that are certainly at risk from this trend.
Repetitive injuries will be a thing of the past, meaning treatment for such injuries as Carpel Tunnel, back injuries, etc., will no longer require surgery, a mainstay of medical tourism, so the boom that might be generated from implementing medical tourism into workers’ compensation in this century, maybe short-lived if the most common injuries suffered on the job no longer require a skilled surgeon, but a software engineer, programmer, or computer technician.
Food for thought, scary food for thought. Thankfully, they haven’t developed technology to replace bloggers. “Wait, I think I just blew a circuit!”.