Workers' comp was not yet a budget line item when Mr. Venditti started in the industry. That changed in the mid '80s. "So I got an early inundation -- baptism by fire."
The director of BJC Healthcare's Corporate Health Services Division, Venditti oversees the self-insured, self-administered Workers' Compensation Administration Program for the company's 27,000 employees. His work with BJC earned the organization the Risk & Insurance® Magazine's Theodore Roosevelt Award for Workers' Compensation and Disability Management in 2009.
He brings more than 30 years of experience working with Fortune 1000 companies, creating programs to reduce and control workers' comp exposures and costs. While there are a variety of challenges currently facing the system, Venditti believes employers and insurers would do themselves a favor by gaining an understanding of psychosocial issues affecting workers' comp claims.
"Dealing with them from an employer or TPA basis is somewhat difficult. It takes a lot of energy and discipline to understand," he says. "They need to know you can't hide from them. They are there on a majority of your cases. It varies in terms of how they affect each case, but you need to recognize they are there."
Screening for psychosocial issues at the onset of an injury can help improve the recovery process and speed return-to-work. For example, he says addressing psychosocial issues can help identify those who might be predisposed to chronic pain and become dependent on narcotics.
"Many times psychosocial issues are part of their daily lives and they are not consciously trying to scam the system, this is just who they are," he said. "They bring that and their injuries into the comp system, which is not designed to deal with it. But ignoring it won't make it go away."
Venditti also has a particular interest in advancing technology in the workers' comp system. The first report he did for a company was written on an Apple 2 computer.
"I was very data driven from the start," he says. "If you don't measure it, you can't control it. You have to have a mechanism to capture it. I started learning how to develop databases. It helped identify potential problem areas early."
Venditti holds a Masters of Health Administration from Maryville University and a bachelor of arts in psychology from the State University of New York. He is also president of the Missouri Self-insurance Association.
Jennifer Wolf Horejsh. How technology can be leveraged to collect reliable data which can be used to improve workers' comp outcomes is also a chief interest of Ms. Wolf Horejsh. The executive director of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions has spent considerable time in the last decade working on the organization's electronic billing initiative.
"It opens up great potential because it reduces frictional costs in the system," she says. "Providers get paid faster and claims are paid quickly and efficiently."
Electronic billing also allows workers' comp providers to collect data, something essential to improving the workers' comp system. "If you can't measure, you can't manage," she says. "We think e-billing is going to be a huge issue within the workers' comp community."
One area of data that is important to track involves pay for performance. She says the idea of paying for improved medical outcomes is being done in general health and will likely come to fruition in the workers' comp community soon.
"The cost containment tools out there now -- fee schedules, treatment guidelines -- don't seem to get at the root of the problem," she says. "That's an area of real interest."
After earning a bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Kansas, Wolf Horejsh took a part-time job with the IAIABC, which, she says, drew her into the "wonderful world of workers' compensation."
In her new role heading the organization, she is responsible for managing its mission to "advance the efficiency and effectiveness of workers' comp systems throughout the world." She also works closely with the IAIABC's executive committee to implement initiatives that enhance the organization's reputation as a "global expert on the regulation and administration of workers' compensation."
She believes the workers' comp system is on the cusp of a transition, spurned in part by the recent and impending retirement of many state regulatory agency chiefs and program managers.
"As we get the millennial generation coming in, the workforce is changing" she says. "At the same time, individuals' expectations of government institutions are changing and workers' compensation will be forced to evaluate how it fits."
Where the workers' comp system was founded during the industrial manufacturing period, she believes it will change to reflect the increase to more service-industry, desk-based jobs.
"Not many people get hurt working at Google," she says. "As that workforce is changing and there is a rise of telecommuting and alternative office environments, what does that mean for workers' comp? I certainly think that topic will come up more and more."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 23, 2012
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