How Technology is Changing Workers’ Comp

Workers’ comp has been around for a long time…in fact, you could say it dates back to 2050 BC.

Looking at just the last four decades in particular, other than changes in compliance standards, not a lot has evolved with how workers’ comp is managed. Typically the words innovation and compliance don’t end up in the same sentence. Many organizations still handle workplace safety and claims the same way that they have for years – paper, email, and spreadsheets – yet as consumers, we use technology every day and wouldn’t make it through a day without it.  When was the last time you looked at your smartphone?  It’s likely been minutes.

While some are skeptical of technology solving everyday issues or improving processes that have “worked for years”, the fact is that technology can completely change how claims are handled providing more accuracy, efficiency, lower costs and increased employee satisfaction.

Here are 4 benefits to using technology in managing your workers’ comp (and the workplace) claims:

1. Improved Communication

Mobile devices in everyone’s hands means communication is easier than ever before. Now more than ever, workers can take advantage of mobile devices to quickly capture—and share—key information that impacts workers’ comp.

Today, companies are able to use mobile technology to enable employees to report information from the field in a real-time manner and eliminate unnecessary paperwork and delays.  This can allow critical information to be accessed by any party that needs to see it—such as HR administrators, preferred medical providers, TPAs,  and others—from their phone, company tablet, or computer. The result is improved accuracy, allows claims to be processed more quickly and conveniently and gives workers and employers more certainty in the process.

Put simply: technology is making communication across the workers’ comp process faster, customized, easier, and more “real-time.”

In the future, you’ll hear more about virtual assistants and chatbots to help collect the right information more easily.  We also predict that these same systems will have “triggers” to help alert and/or remind employees of potential hazards and/or key activities to follow in order to stay safe. After all, the best way to reduce workers’ comp claims is to avoid them to begin with.

2. More Empowered Workers

With mobile technology and easier access to information at any time, workers are more empowered than ever.  Not only can they report their own claims, but you can keep them up to date and keep their case organized in a central place.

Technology helps ensure accurate, secure record keeping.  That means no lost reports….EVER. Which keeps workers’ happy and reduces the risk for an employer.  In addition, when multiple people are reporting claims, consistency of information is critical.  With a paper form, what happens when one person reports the location of an accident as the address of the building, but someone else reports Dock 3, Warehouse 1?  It’s difficult to have integrity of data.  With technology, you can ensure that data is collected the same way every time.

Technology can also help avoid complacency – the number one cause of workplace accidents – and reduce time away from work.  Through reminder triggers, sharing of information and even gamification, the claims process will allow workers to “self-serve” and encourage them to take a more active role in their recovery.

Worker’s comp will take cues from the Health Insurance industry – providing incentives to prevent accidents, just as healthcare provides incentives to stay healthy.  Like the healthcare industry, collecting data and providing more transparency, will better educate workers, allow them to take an active role in the process and incent them to return to work and get their lives back to normal.

3. Improved Management of Claims

Today many companies have injuries reported to different parts of the company.  This might be the right way to do this for your company, however, when multiple individuals are involved in the process, there are a few challenges.

  • Workers are often confused as to what to report and to whom
  • Information is not consistently collected
  • Individuals might be working with old or inaccurate information
  • Claims might be stuck in “limbo” with no one addressing them
  • Inability to see find insights, see trends and set priorities accordingly

These are all challenges created when using paper, email and excel spreadsheets.  A move to using technology for collection and management of the claims solves these pain points and allows an organization to truly harness the power of the data and information.  Not only can the digital collection of data allow for important analysis, but new technologies allow for the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to prescribe actionable measures for continuous improvement.

In the future, you’ll hear more about a technology called Blockchain.  Blockchain will provide multiple benefits to the claims process:

  • Transparency and Trust – because information is shared
  • Immutability – because once data is recorded, it’s extremely difficult to change it
  • Highly Secure – all transactions are cryptographically secure

If these terms are another language to you, don’t worry about it – yet. It’s emerging and companies are figuring out how to embrace and leverage this technology in unique ways.

4. Increased Cost Savings

The direct and indirect costs of managing a safety program and workers’ compensation claim are high. When you factor in the amount of time allocated to managing those programs as well, the numbers become unsustainable for most businesses.

Technology to aid the ease of workers’ compensation claims are designed to increase organizational productivity. For example, wearable technology and mobile apps can now indicate fatigue, body temperature, and repetitive motion data to proactively reduce employee injury. Other systems simplify the incident reporting and claims process through digital reporting capabilities, automated workflow management, and easy information transfer.

The Bottom-Line

It’s an exciting time for the industry.  What’s so intriguing is that the use of technology has really become a pragmatic solution for managing claims.  It’s not about using technology just to use technology.  There are real benefits to both the employer and employee.  Technology can have a lasting impact on the culture of an organization through improved collaboration and transparency, as well as directly impact efficiency and costs. But it’s not just about that:  it’s about helping each and every worker take steps to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.

If you haven’t adapted your claims process to how you and your employees truly live today – what’s stopping you?

 

 

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