2017 NWCDC

2017 NWCDC: Embracing Technology

NWCDC 2017 offers an array of diverse solutions to the challenges facing the workers’ compensation and disability realm.
By: | October 12, 2017 • 5 min read

While the workers’ comp industry has been slow to embrace technology, the tides are turning and bringing along new challenges.

That’s why this year’s National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Conference & Expo added a technology track to the mix for 2017.

“Claims payers can really benefit from education on technology,” said Roberto Ceniceros, senior editor for Risk & Insurance® and NWCDC conference chair.


From wearables to Insurtech, telemedicine and more, employers face budding challenges as technology advances. Adapting tech into day-to-day workers’ comp operations can help reduce claims and provide positive results.

In some cases, though, it can also create strife.

“We’re all challenged by technology and how to utilize it,” said William Wainscott, manager of occupational health & workers’ compensation at International Paper. “The new technology track at NWCDC will give us an opportunity to see how other employers are using technology to advance their programs.”

Wainscott acts as program co-chair and, together with Ceniceros and co-chair Denise Algire, has worked to provide a diverse group of topics in the technology track. Algire added that when they were designing the program this year, they wanted to identify content relevant to employers.

“So much of the industry is surrounded by technology,” she said.

William Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health, International Paper

Algire, the director of risk initiatives and the national medical director of risk management at Albertsons Companies, will be addressing “How High-Performance Claims Organizations Use Technology to Differentiate Their Operations” during the conference.

In this session, Algire and her colleagues will discuss technology’s impact on successful high-performing claims-management organizations and share concrete examples of how technology can be used to drive claim outcomes.

Other tech topics of interest include a session on Insurtech — the use of technology to create savings and build efficiency from the current insurance industry model — and its effects on claims; a session on telemedicine’s current capabilities and how to utilize them; and a session addressing wearables in the workers’ comp world.

“Claims payers can really benefit from education on technology.” — Roberto Ceniceros, senior editor, Risk & Insurance, and NWCDC conference chair

“Wearables are an up-and-coming-issue,” said Ceniceros. “They’ve been talked about more in safety, but I anticipate hearing how they’re used in claims management.”

Ceniceros is encouraging conference speakers to not only talk about positive outcomes, but to also dive into measures that failed. As more and more workers’ comp professionals adopt technology into their practices, knowing what not to do can teach others how to best utilize tech and avoid the same mistakes.

Beyond Technology

Technology isn’t the only topic of interest this year. The NWCDC educational agenda is packed with diverse sessions employers and service providers will want to make time for.

With discussions on complex claims, pharmacy management strategies, predictive analytics, managed care and more, NWCDC has a little bit of everything in store.


“This conference has a wide range of topics that will appeal to workers’ compensation professionals in all different parts of the industry,” said Ceniceros.

In total, the conference features 34 breakout sessions, two mega sessions and one general session. There are six tracks: technology, claims management, program management, medical management, legal/regulatory and disability management.

Claims Management:  Barry Bloom, a principal consultant with the bdb Group, will discuss high-exposure litigated claims, practicing claim-process quality control and adopting the double-play process into managing claims.

Don’t fret if you miss it the first time around, either!

“To ensure attendees have a chance to participate in popular sessions, this year has a few key repeating sessions,” explained Algire. Bloom’s “The Double-Play Process: A Blueprint for Closing Complex, High-Value Claims,” will repeat Thursday, Dec. 7, at 10:45 am and 4:15 pm.

Denise Gillen-Algire, director of managed care and disability for corporate risk management, Albertsons Safeway

Program Management:  Three speakers will address vendor management within the program management track.

Carrie Struzynski, senior manager of claims, safety and risk, Randstad North America Inc.; Jodie Massingill, senior manager of casualty claims, Sysco Corp.; and Mollie Kallen, CEO/president of MKCM Inc., join together to discuss high-performance workers’ comp programs and outside vendors.

The speakers will highlight how to recognize vendor-integration problems proactively, not retroactively, encouraging a targeted approach to partnering with insurers, TPAs, managed care organizations, NCMs and more.

Medical Management: Meanwhile, the medical management track offers insight on the whole-person approach while treating an injured worker with chronic pain.

A whole-person approach looks into factors affecting the healing process outside of physical ailment, such as psychosocial issues or cognitive behavioral therapies.

Melissa Burke, second VP of workers’ compensation at Travelers, and Michael Gavin, president of PRIUM, join forces in “Refining the Whole-Person Approach to Chronic-Pain Management.”

Together, they will speak on alternatives in treating chronic pain as the industry continues to reduce opioid use.

Legal/Regulatory:  In the legal/regulatory sector, Best Buy will detail its pilot program to reduce litigation management costs.


John Matejcek, risk manager for Best Buy, and Tiffany Speers, managing partner at Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell and Jimenez, will highlight the program’s successes and how others can recognize underperforming law firms and set litigation strategy to improve results.

Disability Management: Finally, the disability management track gives workers’ comp and disability management professionals the opportunity to hear from a doctor on understanding disability-assessment methods and decipher what makes someone disabled.

Marcos Iglesias, CMO at Broadspire, iterates the value of accurate communications between medical providers and claims payers.

‘The Nordstrom Way’

NWCDC will also present a keynote address delivered by Janine Kral, VP of risk management at Nordstrom.

“Janine’s continuing the discussion within the industry on driving employee advocacy and getting employees engaged,” said Wainscott. “I’m interested in hearing how she takes the Nordstrom customer service philosophy and transfers it into the injured worker’s recovery process.”

Janine Kral,VP, risk management, Nordstrom

“I think Janine’s going to bring an interesting perspective. She’s known as a dynamic speaker with an advanced workers’ comp program,” said Ceniceros.

“She’s a veteran risk manager with a lot of experience in engaging employees.”

Nordstrom’s workers’ comp program has long embraced the practice of injured worker advocacy, and Kral, leading the way, will speak on how the retailer applied its customer-focused approach to engaging with injured employees.

Kral has been with Nordstrom for 30 years, evolving the risk management department into the best-in-class program that exists today. “The Nordstrom Way: Boosting Injured-Worker Engagement” is set for Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 am. &

Autumn Heisler is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

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Risk Management

The Profession

Janet Sheiner, VP of risk management and real estate at AMN Healthcare Services Inc., sees innovation as an answer to fast-evolving and emerging risks.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

As a kid, bagging groceries. My first job out of school, part-time temp secretary.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Risk management picks you; you don’t necessarily pick it. I came into it from a regulatory compliance angle. There’s a natural evolution because a lot of your compliance activities also have the effect of managing your risk.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


There’s much benefit to grounding strategic planning in an ERM framework. That’s a great innovation in the industry, to have more emphasis on ERM. I also think that risk management thought leaders are casting themselves more as enablers of business, not deterrents, a move in the right direction.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Justified or not, risk management functions are often viewed as the “Department of No.” We’ve worked hard to cultivate a reputation as the “Department of Maybe,” so partners across the organization see us as business enablers. That reputation has meant entertaining some pretty crazy ideas, but our willingness to try and find a way to “yes” tempered with good risk management has made all the difference.

Janet Sheiner, VP, Risk Management & Real Estate, AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, of course!  America’s Finest City has the infrastructure, Convention Center, hotels, airport and public transportation — plus you can’t beat our great weather! The restaurant scene is great, not to mention those beautiful coastal views.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

The emergence of risk management as a distinct profession, with four-year degree programs and specific academic curriculum. Now I have people on my team who say their goal is to be a risk manager. I said before that risk management picks you, but we’re getting to a point where people pick it.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?


The commercial insurance market’s ability to innovate to meet customer demand. Businesses need to innovate to stay relevant, and the commercial market needs to innovate with us.  Carriers have to be willing to take on more risk and potentially take a loss to meet the unique and evolving risks companies are facing.

R&I: Of which insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion?

Beazley. They have been an outstanding partner to AMN. They are responsive, flexible and reasonable.  They have evolved with us. They have an appreciation for risk management practices we’ve organically woven into our business, and by extension, this makes them more comfortable with taking on new risks with us.

R&I: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. health care industry and why?

I am very optimistic about the health care industry. We have an aging population with burgeoning health care needs, coupled with a decreasing supply of health care providers — that means we have to get smarter about how we manage health care. There’s a lot of opportunity for thought leaders to fill that gap.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Professionally, AMN Healthcare General Counsel, Denise Jackson, has enabled me to do the best work I’ve ever done, and better than I thought I could do.  Personally, my husband Andrew, a second-grade teacher, who has a way of putting things into a human perspective.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

In my early 20s, I set a goal for the “corner office.” I achieved that when I became vice president.  I received a ‘Values in Practice’ award for trust at AMN. The nomination came from team members I work with every day, and I was incredibly humbled and honored.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The noir genre, so anything by Raymond Chandler in books. For movies,  “Double Indemnity,” the 1944 Billy Wilder classic, with insurance at the heart of it!

R&I: What is your favorite drink?


Clean water. Check out Water.org for how to help people enjoy clean, safe water.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant at which you’ve eaten?

Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

China. See favorite restaurant above. This restaurant had been open for 100 years in that location. It didn’t exactly have an “A” rating, and it was probably not a place most risk managers would go to.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Eating that duck at Liqun!

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Dr. Seuss who, in response to a 1954 report in Life magazine, worked to reduce illiteracy among school children by making children’s books more interesting. His work continues to educate and entertain children worldwide.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They’re not really sure!

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]