The 2012 National Workers' Compensation & Disability Conference and ExpoŽ is in the books. I spoke at nine conferences in 2012, but this was the only event where I was involved with the planning. As one of the conference chairs, I was able to participate in the selection of session topics and other content. If you have never been behind the scenes of a major conference, I can tell you that there is an incredible amount of work that goes into these events that most people never know about.
The conference intentionally tried to go some different directions with the 2012 program, and, based on the feedback received, they were successful in a number of areas. An entire track was devoted to overuse of opioid medications, one of the biggest health issues facing the United States. The Opioid Solutions track offered many great ideas for attacking these issues. This will continue to be one of the biggest issues we face going forward, so the more ideas for solutions the better.
The partnership with LexisNexis on the legal program track was also very successful. Lexis brought great ideas on topics, and a variety of excellent speakers representing both defense and plaintiff attorneys. There was a significant increase in the number of attorneys attending the conference, and I firmly believe that the credibility LexisNexis has in the legal community had a lot to do with that.
The Regional Conflicts block was also new ground for the conference. The conference usually keeps a national focus, but we realize that there are some distinct issues being dealt with in different areas of the country. The five regional panels featured representatives from TPAs, carriers and employers in the region. I bounced between the five sessions and was very pleased by the level of interaction between the audience and panelists. I have also heard some very positive feedback from those that attended the sessions. This is clearly something the conference should consider doing again the future.
I was very honored to be part of the Opening Session to kick-off the conference. There is nothing quite like the energy level at the start of a conference. Everyone is rested and ready to learn. The panel, consisting of Dr. Jennifer Christian, Maureen Gallagher, John Leonard, Jill Dulich and David North, represented five different segments of our industry, and the speakers did a great job covering a lot of ground. The opening session sets the tone for the conference. Our goal was to make people think about a variety of issues the industry is facing, and I think the panel accomplished that.
My favorite session was the bloggers panel. When that session was conceived, the hope was that the panelists would be blunt in their criticism of the industry. I was not disappointed. Dave DePaolo, Joe Paduda, Peter Rousmaniere, Rebecca Shafer and Bob Wilson pulled no punches in offering up suggestions on how the workers' comp industry needs to evolve. The session drew a packed house, and attendees really enjoyed the content. When you are disappointed that the session was not longer, that's a good sign. This one easily could have gone on another hour or more. We should have rolled in the beverage carts from the closing social and kept going!
The Expo Hall seems to get larger every year. The conference extended the Expo Hall hours this year so that attendees could have two full days to visit with exhibitors. They also added socials in the hall at the end of the day on Wednesday and Thursday to encourage people to visit. My one disappointment with the Expo Hall is that several vendors packed up early on Thursday and were no where to be seen during the closing social. I wonder if the people who paid for the booths realize that their staff passed on the opportunity to have additional interaction with conference attendees.
Finally, I wanted to share some interesting facts about the attendees at this year's conference.
* There were registered attendees from all 50 states and Washington D.C. There were also attendees from Canada, England and China.
* The appeal of the conference goes beyond the largest TPAs and carriers, who are always in attendance. There were representatives from more than 80 carriers and 40 TPAs in attendance. The Regional Conflicts block was designed to get more of these regional companies involved with the conference, and that worked.
* Over 30 percent of the full registered attendees were employers, including risk managers, claim managers, loss prevention, human resources, etc. The employers are the key to this industry and the conference is designed to assist their efforts in preventing accidents, ensuring the best outcomes for their injured workers, and controlling costs.
* The workers' comp community has embraced social media, specifically LinkedIn. Over 2/3 of the full registered attendees have a LinkedIn profile.
* The Work Comp Analysis Group on LinkedIn is a big part of this conference, with more than 1/3 of the attendees being members on the discussion group.
Finally, I wanted to acknowledge certain individuals who helped make this conference possible. Program Director Nancy Grover, Exhibit Sales Manager Fred Kurst, and the rest of the LRP staff do an amazing job year after year. They put on several different conferences every year, which is a task I do not envy.
The Advisory Board also did a great job suggesting content, speakers, and supporting the event. Conference Chairs Mark Noonan and Denise Zoe Gillen-Algire are two of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know in the industry, and it was a pleasure to work with them.
I've been invited back as communications chair for the 2013 Conference, so I get to do this all over again next year as the conference moves to Mandalay Bay.
November 28, 2012
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