"This is very, very difficult," fretted Risk & Insurance® workers' comp columnist Peter Rousmaniere, running his hand through his hair. "Very, very difficult." That was a common refrain this year from the judges of the 2005 Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation and Disability Management Awards. The caliber of the entries received was so high that trying to pick just one winner in each category was a relatively grueling task.
Rousmaniere accepted the call to serve as a judge for this year's competition, alongside Dr. Tom Leamon, director of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety; nationally recognized workers' comp and disability management consultants Milt Wright and Richard Pimentel of Milt Wright & Associates; Yolanda Romero, director of workers' comp for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and winner of the workers' comp and disability awards for the public sector in 2003; Nancy Grover, managing editor and program chair for the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo; Jack Roberts, editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance®; and Michelle Kerr, associate editor and workers' comp reporter for Risk & Insurance®. The judges were asked to evaluate entries based on four primary criteria: performance, transferability, teamwork and vision. Performance was perhaps the most heavily weighted factor. The judges were looking to see if a significant challenge had been addressed, and whether applicants had been able to meet (and master) that challenge, as well as back it up with documentation. Judges considered the environment in which the organizations operated, the degree of difficulty they faced in meeting their challenges, the degree of the success achieved, and the credibility of the documentation provided.
Transferability was another key criterion. This refers to the frequency with which the same challenges are faced by other employers as well as the ease with which other employers could draw upon the applicants' experiences. Judges were asked: Can the tools and know-how acquired and applied by the entity be feasibly transferred to other employers? That was a particular point of concern with this year's winners, both hospital systems with challenges unique to the health-care industry. But in the end, the metrics of each of the winners' programs could be applied to nearly any industry.
Teamwork is another criteria the judges looked at closely. Real results aren't generated by an isolated executive handing down treatises on how everyone else should be doing their jobs. Real, lasting results can only be achieved when everyone is working toward the same goal--that means everyone from the company president to the department heads to the rank-and-file employees to third party administrators and all other outside vendors. The judges looked closely at how team members were brought on board and developed.
Last, but not least, is vision, an esoteric-sounding criteria that encompasses clarity and ambition of thought. The best workers' comp programs are based upon the understanding that one good practice or policy does not a success make. What's required is a fundamental shift in the way the company does business--a shift that makes workers' comp a factor in everything the company does. Without question, our two winners possess just such a vision; the results are obvious.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Although the judging was difficult, it was also energizing and exciting to see the great strides many companies have made. The judges had a lot to say about what drew them to their respective choices.
Said Roberts once all the votes had been tallied, "It's not altogether surprising that the judges decided to honor two health care organizations with the Roosevelt award. Hospitals face unusual challenges, ranging from such seemingly mundane issues as heavy lifting, to far more difficult challenges like controlling in-hospital infections. I think what came across with (private sector Teddy winner) HCA, in addition to the breadth of its effort and the superb results, is that their cost-allocation model was especially compelling along with an ongoing record of commitment to long-term efforts to constantly improve their program, even if the results varied from year to year."
Wright, writing on why he and Pimentel both chose Catholic Healthcare West in the public sector category, said, "This is a rare combination of depth of understanding of the cost drivers associated with workers' comp and the identification of the disability management methods of controlling them. While some programs are tilted towards safety and prevention and others to disability management and return to work, this program is well balanced."
November 1, 2005
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