The world of risk management meets every year for the annual meeting of the Risk and Insurance Management Society. With a long history of clients in this space, Scott PR was there connecting with thought leaders and coordinating speaking events and media interviews for our clients. We asked the question, “What are the big Issues in workers’ compensation?” a major risk that all companies face, and got some surprising answers.
“If we know so much about the opioid epidemic, why is it still rampant? Why are four people dying from prescription drugs every hour?” Very good question. The answer is that these potentially dangerous drugs are still routinely prescribed inappropriately for pain that can be treated with other, much safer options, such as over the counter pain medications, exercise, physical therapy, even acupuncture and massage. Even medical marijuana has been demonstrated to reduce pain and lower the number of prescription drugs used by an injured worker.
To change practice patterns is very complicated. A pill is an easy, paid-for solution. What starts in the doctor’s office, unsupervised, leads to an addiction. Prescription drugs are derivatives of heroin but more expensive – pills go for a premium on the street and can buy a significant quantity of heroin. The tragedy of ruined lives is overwhelming.
So what’s to be done? Legislative curbs are one answer. So is recognizing other remedies that may not now be covered because they are viewed as “alternative” or they are not understood. Engaging with the patient in pain is paramount, whether it’s the doctor or the therapist who serves as the counselor and cheerleader to lead the patient forward to more healthy and safe options. Finally, provider education must occur so that the link between opioids, addiction, and death is not just an abstraction – it’s an everyday reality.
A surprising insight was the projected impact of millennials as Baby Boomers retire. This shift has two faces. In the workplace, millennials work differently. They use technology. They search for answers online and even in social media. Increasingly in workers’ compensation, they work remotely where they do not have the camaraderie of a team and the availability of older, more experienced colleagues to answer questions and to mentor them. As companies have cut back on training programs, how will these new employees master the skill set needed for complex, high volume adjuster and claims manager roles?
The second face of the millennial migration is within the workforce itself. Older injured workers expect the personal connection and conversations via phone. Younger injured workers are digital – “text me” is their byword. They will adapt more easily to the digitization of healthcare and of workers’ compensation. And they will have little patience with delays, inefficient communication, and missed connections. For example, they will immediately understand the advantages of a ridesharing model applied to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation companies may find themselves operating two or even three tiers of communication options – a digitized version for younger workers, and a personalized one for their more senior counterparts.
For more insights into workers’ compensation, see these resources: One Call Delivers Educational Session on Common Comorbidities Impacting Workers’ Compensation Claims and Genex: Inside Workers’ Comp.
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