Tag Archives: Claims Handling

Change for Change’s Sake: What Real Change in Workers’ Comp Looks Like

Note: This is my 200th post, so I think you will find it to be one of the best articles I have written so far.

Every industry has its share of conferences, conventions and meetings around the country. The insurance and risk management industries, which includes the workers’ comp industry, is no exception.

In the early stage of my career, I worked for a small, retail insurance broker on New York’s Long Island, and the men in my company would attend the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Conference every year.

I am sure they went there to learn about things other brokers were doing, make connections with insurance company executives, and workers’ comp service providers. But typically, these conferences allowed the participants to hang out with their buddies at the bar, and play a round or two of golf.

So I was mildly amused when I read an article posted today in The Workers’ Compensation Daily from Safety National Insurance Company, titled “It’s Time to Change Workers’ Compensation”.

The article discussed a recent meeting of the Harbor Health Systems 2015 MPN (Medical Provider Networks) Medical Directors, in which an executive from Sedgwick gave the keynote address. His address discussed the need for change in the approach to workers’ comp claims handling.

Harbor Health Systems is based in California, and through the writings of my fellow blogger, David De Paolo, and the personal experiences of two women I previously wrote about, “Ms. X” and “Ms. A”, the California workers’ comp system could use more than a keynote address to change the problems and abuses injured workers are receiving in that state.

FYI, Harbor Health Systems is a subsidiary of One Call Care Management, a company that for the past two years or so has been gobbling up smaller companies, especially in the pharmacy benefit management arena, as well as other smaller workers’ compensation service providers, and as Joe Paduda reported earlier this week, One Call Care Management has acquired an imaging company called MedFocus.

According to Joe, this acquisition consolidates One Call’s stranglehold on the market, so if this is the kind of change Mr. North of Sedgwick was referring to, then it is more of the same.

The article goes on to say that the role of a medical director is to be there to help injured workers to recover from their injuries and resume their lives. I believe “Ms. X” and “Ms. A” would beg to differ.

The article also goes on to say that for years, the workers’ comp medical networks have focused on two things: discount and proximity. They would send injured workers to the physician closest to the employer’s location who would agree to accept a discount on the treatment provided.

Over time, they realized this approach was flawed, and that they should identify the medical providers who produce the best outcomes and incentivize them to treat injured workers by compensating them fairly.

They are learning that when they find these superior physicians, they need to get out of their way and let them practice medicine. The rest of the article details how the industry needs to evolve in how they devote resources to claims, how to better explain the workers’ comp system and protections it provides, and to avail themselves of the opportunities the ACA provides to evolve the way medical care is delivered.

According to Mr. North, when it comes to change, there are three main categories of people:

  • Innovators – people who are truly creating change
  • Learners – people who take what innovators created and work to evolve it
  • Ignorers – people who are uncomfortable with change and have a tendency to ignore it as long as possible

He said that workers’ comp cannot evolve if they are unwilling to take risks and become innovators; otherwise change will not happen.

I agree with his analysis, and my posts have attested to that fact time and time again. Therefore using his categories, it is clear that I would be considered an innovator, since I have been advocating implementing medical travel into workers’ comp.

Workers’ comp needs to take risks, and medical travel affords them of one of those risks.

Yet, those who have derided my idea, or who have not paid any attention to what I am saying, are ignorers, and there may even be people who would see to it that medical travel never becomes part of workers’ comp.

So I would like to add a fourth category to this list. Call them defenders of the status quo, or preventers, or even saboteurs, if it ever got that far.

So what is this change Mr. North is talking about? Is it real change, or just change for the sake of change? And what does real change look like?

Real change is not keeping injured workers and the system locked in a padded cell, wrapped in a straitjacket.

Real change is not buying up smaller companies and cornering the market, so that the very idea of competition is tossed on the dustbin of history.

Real change is not doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

Real change is not being afraid to look outside of one’s comfort zone, and outside of one’s national borders at a time when your industry is facing challenges from the expansion of out-out legislation that threatens to destroy workers’ comp, rising medical costs, physician shortages, questions of the constitutionality of exclusive remedy, negative media reports, changes in technology and diversification, and other “seismic shifts”.

Real change is becoming a learner, and I am looking for learners to work with. Real change is being fearless and recognizing that Americans are not the only ones who are able to provide quality medical care.

Real change is going with the flow of change in the world today and joining the globalized world; otherwise you stagnate and die. Time is running out. Real change is possible, but you must go after it.

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I am willing to work with any broker, carrier, or employer interested in saving money on expensive surgeries, and to provide the best care for their injured workers or their client’s employees.

Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at: richard_krasner@hotmail.com.

Ask me any questions you may have on how to save money on expensive surgeries under workers’ comp.

Connect with me on LinkedIn, check out my website, FutureComp Consulting, and follow my blog at: richardkrasner.wordpress.com. Share this article, or leave a comment below.

Adjuster Selection Process for Self-Insured Employers: What Medical Tourism Facilitators Should Be Aware Of

You may recall back in November of last year, I wrote a fictional case study about how a self-insured employer who is self-insured for both group health and workers’ compensation, could implement medical tourism into their workers’ compensation program after talking to the benefits manager. Well, for those medical tourism professionals who are interested in working with self-insured employers to implement medical tourism for their injured workers, this week’s article post will give you a little idea of what goes into the process of handling workers’ compensation claims from the employer’s point of view.

Rebecca Shafer, an attorney and expert in workers compensation cost containment, wrote blog piece in Workers’ Compensation.com about how an employer can go about selecting the right kind of claims adjuster to handle their workers’ compensation claims.

Shafer said, that self-insured employers with successful workers’ compensation claim management programs know one key fact – the better the adjuster, the lower the claim cost. Whether the self-insured employer has dedicated and/or designated adjusters at the third party administrator, or utilize their own in-house adjusters, the selection of the best adjusters can be tricky.

She also stated that there are four primary attributes the self-insured employer should look for in the adjuster selection process. These are:

Communication

Documentation

Proactive

Courteous

Communication, Shafer says, should be open…between the adjuster and the employer…Open communications allows for the exchange of information about the claim and ideas on how to assist the injured employee while moving the claim forward. Open communications with the adjuster is not for the employer to micro manage the claims, but to facilitate collaboration and claim progress.

Documentation means that the best adjusters thoroughly document their files. Each phone call, e-mail, medical bill, medical report, attorney letter, state filing, etc., should be documented either in the file notes, the documents section of the file, or both.

Proactivity means that the proactive adjuster will coordinate and manage the medical care either directly or through a nurse case manager. The proactive adjuster will arrange for the employee to return to work light duty. And, the proactive adjuster will coordinate all other aspects of the claim before there is a need for action.

Courtesy extends not just to the employer, but to the employee as well. Other attributes an employer should be aware of, Shafer states, are the following:

Negotiation skills

Organizational skills

Time management skills

Customer service skills (customer being both the self-insured employer and the injured employee)

Work ethic

Ability to prioritize competing demands

Compliance with Best Practices

Technical expertise

As these are attributes that a self-insured employer needs to look for in a claims adjuster, it is not necessary for the medical tourism facilitator company to get so involved with the process of adjuster selection, only to be aware of what the employer will do to find the right individual to handle their workers’ compensation claims. In the event that medical tourism becomes more involved in workers’ compensation, and it is necessary for the facilitator to guarantee that the injured worker will be treated appropriately, it is incumbent upon the facilitator to understand the process of adjuster selection so that no misunderstandings or confusion over who is who, and what role they play in treating and caring for the patient. Knowing what it took to select the adjuster who may need to consult with the facilitator or the medical provider will make the medical tourism experience beneficial for all concerned.