Conference Update

2015 NWC&DC Call for Proposals

Proposal forms for professionals wishing to speak at the 2015 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo are now available with a Feb. 6, 2015 deadline for submissions.
By: | December 1, 2014 • 2 min read
Topics: NWC&DC | Workers' Comp
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Workers’ comp services providers, insurers, brokers, regulators, and medical providers are all encouraged to apply to speak at the conference scheduled for Nov. 11-13, 2015 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Proposals seeking to integrate employer presentations into session panels will once again receive the session-selection group’s priority consideration when the group begins building the overall conference program.

That follows from our success in composing the recently-concluded 2014 conference. Employers and service providers attending the 2014 event praised our increased effort to highlight employer knowledge, experience, program strategies, and outcomes.

Workers’ comp service providers, attorneys, insurers and other industry professional also provide conference attendees valuable ideas and information that the session-selection group will eagerly evaluate for potential 2015 presentations.

But including employers in session panels helps attendees evaluate how strategies and ideas ultimately work and how they impact workers’-comp management programs.

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We want employers and their service providers to speak on a broad variety of workers’ comp and disability-related topics so don’t hesitate to submit multiple RFPs. We do ask, however, for original content not previously provided at other venues.

Innovative practices and strategies that reduce injuries and costs are welcome. But risk managers and workers comp managers are also encouraged to share their unique experiences with applying tried-and-true practices at their companies.

The 2014 conference saw several employers and others speaking on their integration of measures for addressing both occupational and non-occupational injuries, illness and disabilities. We look forward to seeing more proposals containing information on various integrated disability practices as the integration of disability management strategies appears to be a growing trend.

But with a goal of providing breakout sessions containing a broad range of workers’ comp content we will not be limited to selecting from any one topic area.

Reviewing the criteria guidelines we followed when selecting speaker proposals for the 2014 conference may be helpful at this point for anyone beginning to complete the 2015 RFP forms. The criteria guidelines include:

  • The extent to which a presentation would help attendees resolve real-world workers’ comp program challenges or claims problems.
  • The timeliness of the issues examined.
  • Potential for fresh perspectives from speakers new to the conference.
  • The depth of experience, credentials, and expertise of the speaker in relation to their topic.
  • The speaker’s job description and their position within the industry with particular attention paid to increasing the number of participating risk managers.
  • How well the topic blended with other presentations and the extent to which this would create a cohesive conference program addressing a broad mix of issues.
  • Public speaking and presentation experience of the speakers, when known.

RFP forms and information are available here. Or, for further discussion on potential presentation topics and speakers, contact Roberto Ceniceros, conference co-chair, at (208) 286-1425.

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.
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2014 NWC&DC

Some Final Thoughts

By: | November 21, 2014 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.
Topics: NWC&DC | Workers' Comp

The conference seats and stages will soon be empty. The expo booths are packed up and some attendees are already heading home.

But those of you fortunate to stay just a little bit longer will hear some thought-provoking presentations today on significant topics for anyone charged with managing claims or providing related services.

Like the conference sessions already presented over the past two days, they are the culmination of planning, decision-making, and preparation that started a year ago. The knowledge and expertise shared during those sessions began accumulating long before that, yet has been applied to address recent and emerging trends.

Similarly, planning for next year’s conference, to be held Nov. 11-13 here at Mandalay Bay, is already underway.

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Requests for proposal information for anyone wanting to present in 2015 will be available very soon on the conference web site. You will want to get started on those soon, as the selection process really begins early in the year.

Don’t hesitate to call me if I can help with insight on what the selection group looks for when deciding which RFPs to pick.

Know that in our efforts to develop the best program content possible we value your input and give it careful review when deciding on topics, speakers and arrangements for next year.

You can also play a role and help us by filling out the conference evaluations. Look for those conference evaluations in emails sent to you. You can also find them on the NWC&DC 2014 Mobile App.

A big thank you to the many, many people who helped make this year’s event another success. That includes a thank you to all the speakers who spent so much time preparing to bring their best game to the show.

And thank you for attending the conference. We hope you enjoyed your time here and return home with new knowledge, strategies and inspiration to carry you through until next year when I’ll be looking forward to seeing you again.

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Sponsored: Healthcare Solutions

The Promise of Technology

A roundtable in Philadelphia explores the power of technology in WC and its potential to take us where we have never been before.
By: | December 10, 2014 • 7 min read

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The field of workers’ compensation claims management seems ideally suited as a proving place for the power of technology.

Predictive analytics in the hands of pharmacy and medical management experts can give claims managers the data they need to intervene in troublesome claims. Wearables and other mobile technologies have the potential to give healthcare providers “real-time” reports on the medical condition of injured workers.

Never before have the goals of quick turnaround and transparency in managing claims appeared so tantalizingly achievable.

In the effort to learn more about technology’s potential, in September, Risk & Insurance® partnered with Duluth, Ga.-based Healthcare Solutions to convene an information technology executive roundtable in Philadelphia.

The goal of the roundtable was to explore technology’s promise and to gauge how advancements are serving the industry’s ultimate purpose, getting injured workers safely back to work.

 

Big Data, Transparency and the Economies of Scale

Integration is a word often heard in connection with workers’ compensation claims management. On one hand, it refers to industry consolidation, as investors and larger service providers seek to combine a host of services through mergers and acquisitions.

In another way, integration applies to workers’ compensation data management. As companies merge, technology is allowing previously siloed stores of data to be combined. Access to these new supersets of data, which technology professionals like to call “Big Data,” present a host of opportunities for payers and service providers.

Through accessible exchange systems that give both providers and payers better access to the internal processes of vendors, a service provider can show the payer the status of the claim across a much broader spectrum of services.

SponsoredContent_HCS“One of the things I see with all of this data starting to exchange is the ability to use analytics to predict outcomes, and to implement workflows to intervene.”
–Matthew Landon, Vice President of Analytics, Bunch CareSolutions.

“Any time that we can integrate with a payer across multiple products such as pharmacy, specialty and PPO services, what it does is gives us a better picture of the claim and that helps us to drive better outcomes,” said roundtable participant Chuck Cavaness, chief information officer for Healthcare Solutions.

Integration across multiple product lines also produces economies of scale for the payer, he said.

Big Data, according to the roundtable participants, also provides claims managers an unparalleled perspective on the cases they manage.

“One of the things that excites us as more data is exchanged is the ability to use analytics to predict outcomes, and to implement workflows to intervene,” said roundtable participant Matthew Landon, vice president of analytics with Lakeland, Fla.-based Bunch CareSolutions, A Xerox Company.

Philadelphia roundtable participant Mike Cwynar, vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based Mitchell International, agrees with Landon.

Jerry Poole, President and Chief Executive Officer, Acrometis

Jerry Poole, President and Chief Executive Officer, Acrometis

“We are utilizing technology to consolidate all of the data, to automate as many tasks as we can, and to provide exception-based processing to flag unusual activity where claims professionals can add value,” Cwynar said.

Technology is also enabling the claims management industry to have more productive interactions with medical providers, long considered one of the Holy Grails of better case management.

Philadelphia roundtable participant Jerry Poole, president and CEO of Malvern, Pa-based claims management company Acrometis, said more uniform and accessible information exchange systems are giving medical providers access to see how bills are moving through the claims manager’s process.

“The technology is enabling providers to call in or to visit a portal to figure out what’s happening in the process,” Poole said.

More efficient data storage and communication is also resulting in quicker turnaround times, which is shortening the duration of claims and driving down the overall cost of risk, according to Cwynar.

 

Going Mobile

Another area where technology is moving the industry forward, according to the Philadelphia technology roundtable participants, is mobile technology, which is being used to support adjustors and case managers and is also contributing to quicker return to work and lower costs for payers.

The ability to take a digital tablet to a meeting with an injured worker or a health care provider is allowing case managers to enter data and give feedback on a patient’s condition in real time.

“Our field-based case managers have mobile connectivity to our claims systems that they use while they’re out of the office attending doctor’s appointments, and can enter the data right there into the system, so they’re not having to wait until they are back at the office to enter critical clinical documentation,” said Landon.

Injured workers that use social media, e-mail and the texting function on their mobile phones are staying in better touch with those that are charged with insuring that they are in compliance with their treatment plans.

Wearable devices that provide in-the-moment information about an injured workers’ condition have the potential to recreate what is known in aviation as the “black box,” a device that will record and store the precise physical state of an employee when they were injured. Such a device could also monitor their recovery process.

But as with many technologies, worker and patient privacy also needs to be observed.

“At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we approach technology enhancement that demonstrates value to the client, while ensuring patient advocacy,” Landon said.

Consolidation

As payers and claims managers set out to harness the power of computing in assessing an injured worker’s condition and response to treatment, the cycle of investment in companies that serve the workers’ compensation space is currently playing a significant role.

The trend of private equity investing in companies that can establish one-stop shopping for such services as medical case management, bill review, pharmacy benefit management and fraud forensics has huge potential.

SponsoredContent_HCS“Any time that we can integrate with a payer across multiple products such as pharmacy, specialty and PPO services, what it does is gives us a better picture of the claim and that helps us to drive better outcomes.”
— Chuck Cavaness, Chief Information Officer, Healthcare Solutions.

The challenge now facing the industry, one the information technology roundtable participants are confident it can meet, is integrating those systems. But doing so won’t happen overnight.

“There’s a lot of specialization in the industry today,” said Jerry Poole of Acrometis.

Years ago there was a PT network. Now there’s a surgical implant guy, there’s specialized negotiations, there’s special investigations, said Poole.

The various data needs to be integrated into an overall data set to be used by the carriers to help lower the cost of risk.

“Consolidating all these providers will take standardization of communication pathways and it will likely be led by the vendors,” Poole said.

 

Securing Sensitive Information

Long before hackers turned the cyber defenses of major national retailers inside out, claims management professionals have focused increased attention on the protection of data shared across multiple partners.

Information security safeguards are changing and apply to what technology pros refer to “data at rest,” data that is stored on a particular company’s servers, and “data in flight,” data that is transferred from one user to another.

Michael Cwynar

Michael Cwynar, Vice President, Mitchell International

Mitchell’s Cwynar said carriers want certification that every company their data is being sent to needs to have that information and that both data at rest and data in flight is encrypted.

The roundtable participants agreed that the industry is in a conundrum. Carriers want more help in predictive analytics but are less willing to share the data needed to make those predictions.

And as crucial as avoiding cyber exposures and the corresponding reputational damage is for large, multinational corporations, it is even more acute for smaller companies in the workers’ compensation industry.

Healthcare Solutions’ Cavaness said the millions in loss notification and credit monitoring costs that impact a Target or a Home Depot in the case of a large data theft would devastate many a workers’ compensation service vendor.

“They’d be done in a minute,” Cavaness said.

The barriers to entry in this space are higher now than ever before, continued Cavaness, and companies wishing to do business with large carriers have the burden of proving that its security standards are uncompromising.

In Reality

Workers’ compensation risk management in the United States is by its very nature, complex and demanding. But keep in mind that those charged with managing that risk get better results year after year.

Technology has a proven capability to iron out the system’s inherent complications and take its more mundane tasks off of the shoulders of case adjustors.

The roundtable members agreed that the business goals of a lower cost of risk and an even more productive workforce will follow.
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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Healthcare Solutions. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Healthcare Solutions serves as a health services company delivering integrated solutions to the property and casualty markets, specializing in workers’ compensation and auto liability/PIP.
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