Searching for the Best Workers' Comp Social Networking on the Web
By PETER ROUSMANIERE, an expert on the workers' compensation industry
For those wanting to advance in the workers' compensation field, the Web has become the place to read and be read.
Access to the leading blogs and online discussion groups is free. Content is often informed and provocative, with the most popular bloggers sometimes acting like David with a verbal slingshot. And the best-read discussion groups can break into urgent discourse, running often for days. All are labors of love by their creators.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance and the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc., hosting their annual gatherings this spring in Orlando and Boston, respectively, implicitly acknowledged the Web's stature by inviting Joe Paduda, one of the industry's most-read bloggers, to speak. The Connecticut-based consultant talked about the impact of healthcare reform on workers' compensation, a prominent topic in his postings over the past 12 months.
Paduda typed his first posting on his blog Managed Care Matters on October 15, 2004. Now, he posts three to four times a week, and about 1,900 people receive a link to each new posting. One entry, which compared healthcare costs in the United States to those of other countries, attracted 12,000 visitors.
"You have to have, and voice, your opinion, and be prepared to stand behind your arguments. Admit your mistakes publicly. Don't engage with trolls more than once. Remember the blog is yours, and if people don't like it, they don't have to read it," Paduda said.
Another key industry blog is Workers Comp Insider, which was started on September 23, 2003, and recently achieved its 1,200th posting. It boasts about 1,800 subscribers. Executives of the Massachusetts-based management consulting firm Lynch Ryan run it. One poster focuses on global issues, a second concentrates on news and useful tools, and a third poster casts a skeptical, editorial eye, sometimes attacking what he views as wrong-headed practices.
Jon Coppelman, the third of those posters, said that the challenge is to be entertaining yet accurate and reliable.
"The comments usually come from the usual suspects, although every once in a while there is a surprise, like the time I heard from the widow of a man who died in an accident," he added.
THE DISCUSSION GROUPS
Two content-rich online discussion groups are delivering what in effect are 365/24/7 professional conferences that bring together disparate professional points of view.
The Work Fitness & Disability Roundtable is a Yahoo group founded in March 2001 by Dr. Jennifer Christian, the Massachusetts-based occupational medicine specialist, insurance carrier advisor and former medical director at a workers' compensation insurer.
About 1,200 people participate in the roundtable. They include clinicians, insurance executives, corporate risk managers and human resource executives. Christian personally approves the applications for membership and monitors the entries. This way, she said, she is able to keep the discussion professional, easy to follow and absent of self-promotion.
Close to 30 new discussion threads are started every month. Topics range from the value of functional capacity evaluations to how employers should talk with injured employees. After one particularly active discussion, a roundtable member posted, "I find the WFD Roundtable to be an excellent resource, especially in keeping my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the industry nationwide. ... In one string of postings just recently, contributions were sent in from the following perspectives: PT, VR, DC, Ph.D., M.D. and OT. Quite an alphabet soup of experts on a single topic of discussion."
The Work Comp Analysis Group, created on November 22, 2008, on the social networking site LinkedIn, has attracted 5,000 members, according to founder and moderator Mark Walls. At his day job, Walls is assistant vice president for claims for St. Louis-based insurer Safety National. The discussion group is not related to his employer.
"I founded the group to provide a place were industry professionals from around the country can network, ask questions, share information and discuss workers' compensation issues," Walls said.
The discussions in the group sometimes last for several dozen posts, with responses coming from brokers, risk managers, claims executives, medical providers, lawyers and other industry professionals.
A recent discussion about Medicare set-asides generated over 25 postings in its first two days. This included postings from executives in the Medicare compliance industry, attorneys and others with knowledge of set-asides.
Michael Shor, managing director of Boston-based Best Doctors Occupational Health Institute, participates in both of these online groups.
"They provide a number of different perspectives on issues that all of us in workers' comp are wrestling with. That helps to push my thinking about different issues," he said. "The challenge is that, except for those instances where you may actually know the respondent, it becomes difficult to judge the value of the respondents. Are they simply pushing a personal or organizational agenda, or is there genuine intellectual substance?"
(Editor's note: LRP Publications Inc., the parent company of the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM, has partnered with Walls and his LinkedIn group, forming a subgroup for its Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability ConferenceŽ & Expo. Risk & InsuranceŽ
also runs a LinkedIn group, which focuses on workers' comp as well as news and issues within the overall property/casualty insurance and risk management sphere.)
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
May 17, 2010
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