NWCDC Session Preview

NWCDC Adopts Technology Track

This year’s presentations offer timely and diverse solutions to the challenges facing the workers’ compensation and disability realm.
By: | September 5, 2017 • 4 min read

From wearables to insurtech, telemedicine and more, employers face budding challenges as technology advances. Adapting tech into the workers’ comp system can help reduce claims and provide positive results, but technology 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.”

The National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Conference & Expo boasts a number of technology-based sessions during its Dec. 6 through Dec. 8 conference in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.

“The track focuses on the integration or use of technology. For example, there is a session on using telemedicine. We’ve been talking about telemedicine for workers’ comp for years. There’s also a great panel discussing use of analytical tools throughout the claims process. I am very interested in the session about wearables,” he said.

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

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

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

Algire is the director of risk initiatives and the national medical director of risk management at Albertsons Companies. She 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 high-performing claims-management organizations and share concrete examples on how technology is used to drive claim outcomes.

Beyond Technology

Tech isn’t the only topic of interest. This year’s NWCDC is robust with diverse topics that employers and service providers will want to see. With sessions on complex claims, pharmacy management strategies, predictive analytics, managed care and more, NWCDC has a little bit of everything in store.

“Every year we strive to bring in new speakers and new ideas focused on employer best practices,” said Algire. She noted that one of the biggest challenges is having two sessions of interest occurring at the same time. “To ensure attendees have a chance to participate in popular sessions, this year has a few key repeating sessions. The agenda is laid out so that attendees can pick the topics that are most relevant for them and their businesses.”

Barry Bloom, a principal consultant with the bdb Group, will speak at one of the repeating sessions. “The Double Play-Process: A Blueprint for Closing Complex, High-Value Claims,” held on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 10:45 am and 4:15 pm, will cover topics on managing high-exposure litigated claims, practicing claim-process quality control and adopting the double-play process into managing claims.

“I always walk away from this session with an ‘a-ha’ moment. There’s always someone who gives a tip or two that I can apply to my own program.” — William Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health, International Paper

Wainscott and Algire will both be speaking at the conference as well.

“60 Tips in 60 Minutes — Sage Advice for Overcoming Complex Claims Challenges” is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 8, at 8:30 am. The fast-paced nature of the session will keep attendees on their toes as the panel of seven industry experts, including Wainscott, give tips on how to better deal with and prevent complex claim challenges.

“I always walk away from this session with an ‘a-ha’ moment,” Wainscott said. “There’s always someone who gives a tip or two that I can apply to my own program.”

Algire, in addition to speaking on high-performance claims and technology, will be speaking during “Where’s the ‘Care’ in Managed Care? Fixing Misaligned Incentives.”

“Managed care was developed with the objective of getting patients the best care,” she explained. “What has happened over time with managed care is misaligned incentives with unintended consequences.”

Frank Pennachio, partner at Oceanus Partners, will tackle care management alongside Algire. They will discuss these unintended consequences, diving into the flaws in percentage-of-savings models, fee-splitting and other payment arrangements. The session is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7, at 10:45 am.

‘The Nordstrom Way’

In total, the conference features 34 breakout sessions, two mega sessions, one general session and a keynote address delivered by Janine Kral, the 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.”


“Injured worker engagement has a connection to what we do as retailers. A functional, happily engaged employee is more likely to provide great customer service to our customers,” Algire added.

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.

The complete agenda for NWCDC can be found on the conference’s website, along with presenter bios and the Expo’s exhibitor list. &

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Teddy Awards

The Era of Engagement

The very best workers’ compensation programs are the ones where workers aren’t just the subject of the program, they’re a part of it.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 5 min read

Employee engagement, employee advocacy, employee participation — these are common threads running through the programs we honor this year in the 2017 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Awards, sponsored by PMA Companies.

A panel of judges — including workers’ comp executives who actively engage their own employees — selected this year’s winners on the basis of performance, sustainability, innovation and teamwork. The winners hail from different industries and regions, but all make people part of the solution to unique challenges.


Valley Health System is all-too keenly aware of the risk of violence in health care settings, running the gamut from disruptive patients to grieving, overwrought family members to mentally unstable active shooters.

Valley Health employs a proactive and comprehensive plan to respond to violent scenarios, involving its Code Atlas Team — 50 members of the clinical staff and security departments who undergo specialized training. Valley Health drills regularly, including intense annual active shooter drills that involve participation from local law enforcement.

The drills are unnerving for many, but the program is making a difference — the health system cut its workplace violence injuries in half in the course of just one year.

“We’re looking at patient safety and employee safety like never before,” said Barbara Schultz, director of employee health and wellness.

At Rochester Regional Health’s five hospitals and six long-term care facilities, a key loss driver was slips and falls. The system’s mandatory safety shoe program saw only moderate take-up, but the reason wasn’t clear.

Rather than force managers to write up non-compliant employees, senior manager of workers’ compensation and employee safety Monica Manske got proactive, using a survey as well as one-on-one communication to suss out the obstacles. After making changes based on the feedback, shoe compliance shot up from 35 percent to 85 percent, contributing to a 42 percent reduction in lost-time claims and a 46 percent reduction in injuries.

For the shoe program, as well as every RRH safety initiative, Manske’s team takes the same approach: engaging employees to teach and encourage safe behaviors rather than punishing them for lapses.

For some of this year’s Teddy winners, success was born of the company’s willingness to make dramatic program changes.


Delta Air Lines made two ambitious program changes since 2013. First it adopted an employee advocacy model for its disability and leave of absence programs. After tasting success, the company transitioned all lines including workers’ compensation to an integrated absence management program bundled under a single TPA.

While skeptics assume “employee advocacy” means more claims and higher costs, Delta answers with a reality that’s quite the opposite. A year after the transition, Delta reduced open claims from 3,479 to 1,367, with its total incurred amount decreased by $50.1 million — head and shoulders above its projected goals.

For the Massachusetts Port Authority, change meant ending the era of having a self-administered program and partnering with a TPA. It also meant switching from a guaranteed cost program to a self-insured program for a significant segment of its workforce.

Massport’s results make a great argument for embracing change: The organization saved $21 million over the past six years. Freeing up resources allowed Massport to increase focus on safety as well as medical management and chopped its medical costs per claim in half — even while allowing employees to choose their own health care providers.

Risk & Insurance® congratulates the 2017 Teddy Award winners and holds them in high esteem for their tireless commitment to a safe workforce that’s fully engaged in its own care. &


More coverage of the 2017 Teddy Award Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Advocacy Takes Off: At Delta Air Lines, putting employees first is the right thing to do, for employees and employer alike.


Proactive Approach to Employee SafetyThe Valley Health System shifted its philosophy on workers’ compensation, putting employee and patient safety at the forefront.


Getting It Right: Better coordination of workers’ compensation risk management spelled success for the Massachusetts Port Authority.


Carrots: Not SticksAt Rochester Regional Health, the workers’ comp and safety team champion employee engagement and positive reinforcement.


Fit for Duty: Recognizing parallels between athletes and public safety officials, the city of Denver made tailored fitness training part of its safety plan.


Triage, Transparency and TeamworkWhen the City of Surprise, Ariz. got proactive about reining in its claims, it also took steps to get employees engaged in making things better for everyone.

A Lesson in Leadership: Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental’s workers’ comp program.


Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]