The Courage to Create
When I think of the courage to create, and the accompanying traits of passion and perseverance that define Risk All Stars, I can’t help but think of Renee Crow of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.
Like a number of our Risk All Stars winners, Crow manages risk at a company that is experiencing rapid growth. Rapid growth brings opportunity. But rapid growth, as we know, carries risk.
When Crow joined Kimpton, the company owned 24 properties. Now, it owns more than 60.
Although customer service underlies so much, there is a laser focus on it in the hospitality business. Much is expected and very little is forgiven.
The organizations these professionals manage risk for are stronger because of their courage.
According to Crow, Kimpton sets high customer service standards, but it was also facing legal snares from guest and employee interactions gone bad. She devised a training program that enabled Kimpton staff across the country to re-enact various customer service scenarios and learn from them.
Crow humbly states that she did what she did because she’d seen enough bad training approaches to know better. But I say what she did was innately brilliant.
She took a risk, or a negative, and created employee engagement across the board in seeking solutions. This is an era when employee disengagement is reported to be at high levels across many industries. The cost of risk at Kimpton has plummeted as a result.
The creative courage of Risk All Stars winner Kris Finell of Rytec Corp. also comes to mind. Finell possessed not merely the courage to create, but also the moxie to confront.
Rytec, another fast growing company, is a manufacturer of high-speed industrial doors. You can easily see the risks and the results when something goes wrong.
Rytec salesmen were in the habit of removing industrial door safety features at the behest of customers. Finell, practically brand new in her role as risk manager, put a stop to it.
Waivers that allow customers to remove safety features on Rytec doors are now a thing of the past.
Finell also had the courage to remove a broker that was friends with one of her supervisors. The relationship wasn’t working for her vision, so she vetted a number of candidates and chose one with the right fit for her.
Talking to these Risk All Stars reminded me that it’s not enough to see something; you have to say and do something. The organizations these professionals manage risk for are stronger because of their courage.
2015 Risk All Stars
Angeli Mancuso: On a Mission to Revitalize (+Responsibility Leader)
Manager, Employee Health & Safety, Cottage Health System
By getting the board of directors behind a goal to decrease patient-handling injuries, Angeli Mancuso has improved employees’ quallity of life.
Timothy Fischer: With Military Precision (+Responsibility Leader)
Tim Fischer was given nine months to address the risk implications of a sizable spin-off.
Tim Kirsch overhauled his company’s safety mission, protecting drivers on the road while slashing workers’ comp claims costs.
The urgent need for a creative solution inspired one Risk All Star to create a unique excess casualty program with benefits on several levels.
Jennifer Cable’s degree is in opera performance. She is also a risk management maestro.
Tracey Gasper: Service Centered (+Responsibility Leader)
This risk manager’s savings for her company can be measured in the millions.
Elizabeth Queen: Building a Unified Travel Program (+Responsibility Leader)
With an existing program now spread enterprise-wide, traveling employees have an improved experience, while the company enjoys lower costs and reduced risk.
One Risk All Star took on the daunting challenge of quickly relocating a sprawling headquarters, and without a single moment of down time.
David Brooks quantifies and manages risks across every industry and product offered by XL Catlin.
Brent Cooley: Shakespeare Minus the Tragedy (+Responsibility Leader)
A series of potentially high-severity events drove the push to launch a safety organization that will help keep theater students safe for years to come.
New to her position in risk management, Rytec’s Kris Finell set about correcting just about everything she could get her hands on.
Albert Fierro: The Fruits of Long, Hard Labor (+Responsibility Leader)
With decades of expertise in captive insurance, Albert Fierro was the ideal person to help AARP rein in its rising workers’ compensation costs.
Adding role playing to training efforts helped Kimpton Hotels’ risk manager teach employees how to avoid mistakes that drive up the cost of claims.
Treasury now drives risk management throughout Meritor’s business units, thanks to the efforts of Todd Chirillo.
Florida’s insurance pool members can rest easy that, thanks to Jeannie Garner’s initiative, they can bounce back in the face of severe storms.
When staff reductions and organizational change made strong leadership imperative, Amanda Lagatta rose to the challenge.
The Doctor as Partner
Professionals helping employees return to work after being on disability or a leave of absence face many challenges. After all, there is a personal story behind each case and each case is unique.
In the end, the best outcome is an employee who returns to the job healthy and feeling well taken care of, while at the same time managing the associated claim costs.
Learn what most employers want from their group disability and life benefits program.
While many carriers and claims managers work toward these goals, in the end they often tend to focus on minimizing costs by aggressively managing claims to get the worker back on the job, or they “fast track” claims, approving everything and paying little attention to case management.
Aggressively managed claims can leave many employees and their doctors feeling defensive and ill-at-ease, creating an adversarial relationship that ultimately hinders return to work and results in higher direct and indirect employee benefit costs for the employer. Fast track or non-managed claims can lead to increased durations, costs and workforce productivity issues for employers.
Is it possible to provide a positive employee benefit experience while at the same time effectively managing disability and lowering an employer’s overall benefit costs?
A Unique Approach
Liberty Mutual Insurance’s approach to managing disability and absence management focuses on building consensus among all stakeholders – the disabled employee, treating physician, employer and insurer. And a key component of this process is a large team of consulting physician specialists, leading practitioners from a variety of specialties, highly regarded experts affiliated with leading medical universities across the country.
“About 16 years ago, our national medical director, Dr. Ed Crouch, proposed that if we worked with a core group of external consulting medical specialists – rather than sending most claims for Independent Medical Evaluations – we could do a better job making disabled employees and their attending physicians comfortable, and therefore true partners in producing better disability management outcomes and employee benefit experiences,” said Tim Kastrinelis, senior vice president, Distribution Partnerships at Liberty Mutual Benefits.
“In this way, our consulting physician and the attending physician are able to work with the disability case manager, the employee and the employer to deliver a coordinated, collaborative approach that facilitates a productive lifestyle and return to work.”
The result of Dr. Crouch’s initiative has produced positive results for the clients of Liberty Mutual Insurance. This consensus building approach to managing disability with consulting physician expertise has helped achieve industry leading client retention results over the past decade. In fact, 96 percent of Liberty Mutual’s group disability and group life clients renew their programs.
“By getting all stakeholders on the same page and investing heavily in consulting physician specialists, we have been able to lower claim costs and shortened claim duration for our group disability policyholders. …In the end, it’s a win-win for all.”
–Tim Kastrinelis, Senior Vice President, Distribution Partnerships, Liberty Mutual Benefits
A Collaborative Approach
In the case of complex disability medical health situations, Liberty Mutual’s disability case managers play a vital role in seeking additional expertise—an area where the industry’s standard has been to outsource the claimant for independent medical examinations.
However, Liberty Mutual empowers its disability case managers with the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of each claim. The claimant and the case manager stay together throughout the life of the claim. This relationship is the foundation for a collaborative approach that delivers a better employee benefit experience and enables the claimant to return to work sooner; which more effectively controls total disability claim and absence costs.
Sending a disabled employee with complex medical needs to an external specialist may sound like a cost-effective path, but it often comes at the cost of sacrificing the relationship and trust built between the employee and case manager. The disabled employee must explain their medical history to a new clinician, which he or she is often reluctant to do. The attending physician may be uncooperative as this move can appear to question his or her treatment plan for the employee.
As a result, the entire claims process takes on an adversarial atmosphere, building major roadblocks to the ultimate goal of helping the claimant return to a productive lifestyle.
Liberty Mutual takes a different approach. Nearly 100 physicians representing more than 30 medical specialties are available to consult with its medical and claims professionals, working side-by-side with case managers.
More than 95 percent of these consulting physicians are in active practice, and therefore up-to-date on the latest clinical best practices, treatment guidelines, therapies, medications, and programs. Most of these physicians are affiliated with leading medical universities across the country. “We recruit specialists from around the country, getting the best from such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Yale, and Duke,” said Kastrinelis.
These highly-credentialed physicians help case managers focus on providing the support needed for the disabled employee to successfully return to work as quickly as appropriate. Their collaborative work with the attending physicians provides the behind-the-scenes foundation that leads to a positive claimant experience, results in a better outcome for the claimant, and more effectively reduces total claim costs.
Coordinated Care Plan
When one of these consulting physicians reaches out to an attending physician, there’s an immediate degree of respect and high regard for his or her opinion. This helps pave the way to working together in the best interest of the employee, improving treatment plans and return to work results.
In this process, the claimant is not sent to yet another doctor; instead, the consulting specialist works with the attending physician to help fill in the gaps of knowledge or provide information that only a specialist would have. Although not an opportunity to direct care, these peer-to-peer discussions can help optimize care with the goal of helping the employee return to work.
The attending physician may have no knowledge of the challenges the employee faces in order to return to work. A return to work plan created in concert with the specialist, disability case manager, employer, and attending physician can set expectations and provide the framework for a proactive and effective return to a productive lifestyle.
“Our consulting physicians bring sophisticated medical expertise to the discussion, and help build consensus around a return-to-work plan, helping us more effectively impact a claim’s outcome and costs, and at the same time provide a better claimant experience,” said Kastrinelis.
“We can work more collaboratively with the attending physician, manage expectations, and shepherd the employee through the process much more effectively and in a much more high-touch, caring, and compassionate manner. Overall, we’re able to produce better outcomes as a result of this consensus building approach.”
“Our approach – including the use of consulting medical experts – helped us significantly reduce disability costs over two years for one large health service company,” notes Kastrinelis. “We cut average short-term disability claim durations by 4.2 days in that time, while increasing employee satisfaction with our unique disability management model and collaborative, partnership approach.
How did Liberty Mutual’s unique approach lower claim costs, reduce disability duration and improve the benefit experience for one customer?
“By getting all stakeholders on the same page and investing heavily in consulting physician specialists, we have been able to lower claim costs and shortened claim duration for our group disability policyholders,” said Kastrinelis.
“Plus, we, the employee, and the employer also get the bonus of creating a better employee benefit experience. This model has shaped our disability and absence management program to more aptly reflect our core mission of helping people live safer, more secure lives. In the end, it’s a win-win for all.”
How does Liberty Mutual provide a superior employee benefit experience?
Tim Kastrinelis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on Liberty Mutual’s group disability and absence management offerings can be seen at https://www.libertymutualgroup.com/business-insurance/business-insurance-coverages/employee-benefits.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty Mutual Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.