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NWCDC Chairman's Message

NWCDC Presentation ‘Wish List’ Released

Update: The deadline to submit speaker proposals for the 2018 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo has been extended to March 9th.
By: | February 12, 2018 • 6 min read
Topics: NWCDC | Workers' Comp

With the deadline approaching for submitting proposals to speak at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo, the event’s speaker selection team wants to share a list of topics it is eager to see presented. The extended deadline is March 9, 2018.

NWCDC 2018 will take place Dec. 5 – 7 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

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In general, the two most important practices for getting selected to present at NWCDC call for including an employer who has implemented the solutions to be discussed, and has obtained outcomes they can share with the audience.

Keep in mind, NWCDC prefers practical solutions that others can implement. Theoretical and future-looking discussions may be appropriate in some cases, though, such as for the conference’s Technology Track.

Another practice that can boost the potential for getting selected to present during the event is to submit multiple RFPs. One organization submitted 16 last year. This helps by increasing the likelihood the selection group will find a topic that both stands out from other potential presentation ideas, and also fills a specific need the selection group has identified.

The conference also wants technical topics for addressing claims medical management and litigation management.

Below is a list of presentation topics the selection committee and NWCDC board members would like to see addressed at NWCDC in 2018. But keep in mind that other topic proposals are also welcome and no less valuable.

  • How do you move to quality care based on provider outcomes and value-based care? We don’t just want to know about contracting with a network of rated doctors. We want the nuts and bolts of how you actually put a program into place. How do you go about it? How do you move from a fee-for-service model to a value-based structure? Are there different forms of provider reimbursement that are preferred?
  • Addressing cyber risks when transferring employee data between vendors.
  • What are employers, TPAs and insurers doing to stop future drug addiction at the point of sale and with clinical programs. PBMs mostly fill scripts then eventually send up red flags and chase the problem after their warning signs are triggered. They essentially do retro reviews. There are, however, some pioneers doing work up front, such as patient education, before the script is filled. Those are the types of programs NWCDC wants to hear about.
  • How to avoid delays in medical treatment so the injured worker isn’t waiting to receive care.
  • The use of mobile service apps for physical therapy, telehealth and mobile health. This session could really benefit from combining service providers with an employer.
  • Managing the tail. Strategies for managing long-tail claims. What are biggest challenges and how do you overcome them? This is different from settling or closing old-dog claims. This is more about how do you manage them when you are not eliminating them, like you might try with old-dog claims. How do you manage future medical, etc?
  • Realistic emerging technology in medical treatment. This session might focus on a range of technology rather than single products as NWCDC frowns on product pitches.
  • What models of risk transfer, risk sharing and risk financing will arise? What are their differences, who is implementing them and what is getting traction? Consider organizations such as Teambrella, the bitcoin enabled peer-to-peer insurance, Lemonade and Dynamis.
  • Apps for allowing early or self-reporting and follow up with doctors. How might these lend themselves to the injured-worker advocacy approach and employee engagement?
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    How do evidence-based medicine and pharmacy formularies in different jurisdictions potentially impact claims and medical management?How might understanding these differences help employers and other claims payers operationalize programs? How do employers take advantage? There is a lot of opportunity to improve employer programs if claims payers can take advantage of states implementing evidence-based care and formularies.

  • The future of work and workers’ comp and how will robotics and artificial intelligence impact the workplace and insurance arrangements. Most of today’s discussion on this topic focuses on current robotics use. But what will it look like in the future? This session can be both practical (such as employer and insurer or broker speaking on how this is impacting insurance and claims currently) and theoretical (as in what will the future look like).
  • Improving claims outcomes through settlement practices. This could be a good technical claims topic.
  • Cost-conscious improvements in your workers’ compensation program, or how to get better at claims management without spending a lot of money.
  • Buying quality services. How to evaluate vendor quality and performance.
  • Opioid litigation risks and what to do to ovoid the exposure. This would focus on claims payers mitigating the risk of getting sued for their role in opioid prescribing.
  • Topics on employee health and safety, such as how to use predictive analytics for developing pre-loss strategies and tying those pre-loss strategies to post-loss information gleaned from predictive modeling. How organizations use preventative programs like physical therapy and safety walkarounds to prevent injuries.
  • Leading indicators.Improving safety and claims management now relies mostly on evaluating lagging indicators. But increasingly, employers want to know what leading indicators will tell them they are being effective. What do they measure to tell them they are doing things right and won’t have certain future problems? How do you identify potential leading indicators and how do you measure them?
  • There’s been a pretty big shift in the minds of workers’ compensation professionals — away from a heavy emphasis on cost reduction and toward an increased focus on the experience of various stakeholders, especially the injured worker and the employer. Why has this has happened, what does this shift mean and where is it headed?
  • A new trend in MSAs. It’s no longer just CMS that wants to recover money for Medicare eligible patients. State agencies such as unemployment departments and disability programs are also starting to get in on the act.
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    The injured worker advocacy movement says fewer investigations is a smarter strategy. So what is the value of not doing an investigation? Are recorded statements and surveillance counterproductive when you are telling employees you are adopting a worker advocacy approach? How do you measure ROI on investigations and recorded statements and limiting them.

  • And speaking of the advocacy movement. We have had presentations on what it amounts to, but do we now have results speakers can share? What has been advocacy’s impact on cost reduction? In the past, NWCDC focused on what advocacy looked like, now we want to know more about lessons learned, the challenges and the results obtained from implementing it. Who has data?
  • And finally, marijuana. What are the current challenges to understanding its impact on the workplace. What are the regulatory and drug testing challenges?

Visit the conference website for more information about NWCDC and the speaker proposal form.

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Cyber Resilience

No, Seriously. You Need a Comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan Before It’s Too Late.

Awareness of cyber risk is increasing, but some companies may be neglecting to prepare adequate response plans that could save them millions. 
By: | June 1, 2018 • 7 min read

To minimize the financial and reputational damage from a cyber attack, it is absolutely critical that businesses have a cyber incident response plan.

“Sadly, not all yet do,” said David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy.

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In the event of a breach, a company must be able to quickly identify and contain the problem, assess the level of impact, communicate internally and externally, recover where possible any lost data or functionality needed to resume business operations and act quickly to manage potential reputational risk.

This can only be achieved with help from the right external experts and the design and practice of a well-honed internal response.

The first step a company must take, said Legassick, is to understand its cyber exposures through asset identification, classification, risk assessment and protection measures, both technological and human.

According to Raf Sanchez, international breach response manager, Beazley, cyber-response plans should be flexible and applicable to a wide range of incidents, “not just a list of consecutive steps.”

They also should bring together key stakeholders and specify end goals.

Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

With bad actors becoming increasingly sophisticated and often acting in groups, attack vectors can hit companies from multiple angles simultaneously, meaning a holistic approach is essential, agreed Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions.

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.”

This means assembling a response team including individuals from IT, legal, operations, risk management, HR, finance and the board — each of whom must be well drilled in their responsibilities in the event of a breach.

“You can’t pick your players on the day of the game,” said Hogg. “Response times are critical, so speed and timing are of the essence. You should also have a very clear communication plan to keep the CEO and board of directors informed of recommended courses of action and timing expectations.”

People on the incident response team must have sufficient technical skills and access to critical third parties to be able to make decisions and move to contain incidents fast. Knowledge of the company’s data and network topology is also key, said Legassick.

“Perhaps most important of all,” he added, “is to capture in detail how, when, where and why an incident occurred so there is a feedback loop that ensures each threat makes the cyber defense stronger.”

Cyber insurance can play a key role by providing a range of experts such as forensic analysts to help manage a cyber breach quickly and effectively (as well as PR and legal help). However, the learning process should begin before a breach occurs.

Practice Makes Perfect

“Any incident response plan is only as strong as the practice that goes into it,” explained Mike Peters, vice president, IT, RIMS — who also conducts stress testing through his firm Sentinel Cyber Defense Advisors.

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Unless companies have an ethical hacker or certified information security officer on board who can conduct sophisticated simulated attacks, Peters recommended they hire third-party experts to test their networks for weaknesses, remediate these issues and retest again for vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched or have newly appeared.

“You need to plan for every type of threat that’s out there,” he added.

Hogg agreed that bringing third parties in to conduct tests brings “fresh thinking, best practice and cross-pollination of learnings from testing plans across a multitude of industries and enterprises.”

“Collaboration is key — you have to take silos down and work in a cross-functional manner.” — Jason J. Hogg, CEO, Aon Cyber Solutions

Legassick added that companies should test their plans at least annually, updating procedures whenever there is a significant change in business activity, technology or location.

“As companies expand, cyber security is not always front of mind, but new operations and territories all expose a company to new risks.”

For smaller companies that might not have the resources or the expertise to develop an internal cyber response plan from whole cloth, some carriers offer their own cyber risk resources online.

Evan Fenaroli, an underwriting product manager with the Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), said his company hosts an eRiskHub, which gives PHLY clients a place to start looking for cyber event response answers.

That includes access to a pool of attorneys who can guide company executives in creating a plan.

“It’s something at the highest level that needs to be a priority,” Fenaroli said. For those just getting started, Fenaroli provided a checklist for consideration:

  • Purchase cyber insurance, read the policy and understand its notice requirements.
  • Work with an attorney to develop a cyber event response plan that you can customize to your business.
  • Identify stakeholders within the company who will own the plan and its execution.
  • Find outside forensics experts that the company can call in an emergency.
  • Identify a public relations expert who can be called in the case of an event that could be leaked to the press or otherwise become newsworthy.

“When all of these things fall into place, the outcome is far better in that there isn’t a panic,” said Fenaroli, who, like others, recommends the plan be tested at least annually.

Cyber’s Physical Threat

With the digital and physical worlds converging due to the rise of the Internet of Things, Hogg reminded companies: “You can’t just test in the virtual world — testing physical end-point security is critical too.”

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How that testing is communicated to underwriters should also be a key focus, said Rich DePiero, head of cyber, North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

Don’t just report on what went well; it’s far more believable for an underwriter to hear what didn’t go well, he said.

“If I hear a client say it is perfect and then I look at some of the results of the responses to breaches last year, there is a disconnect. Help us understand what you learned and what you worked out. You want things to fail during these incident response tests, because that is how we learn,” he explained.

“Bringing in these outside firms, detailing what they learned and defining roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident is really the best practice, and we are seeing more and more companies do that.”

Support from the Board

Good cyber protection is built around a combination of process, technology, learning and people. While not every cyber incident needs to be reported to the boardroom, senior management has a key role in creating a culture of planning and risk awareness.

David Legassick, head of life sciences, tech and cyber, CNA Hardy

“Cyber is a boardroom risk. If it is not taken seriously at boardroom level, you are more than likely to suffer a network breach,” Legassick said.

However, getting board buy-in or buy-in from the C-suite is not always easy.

“C-suite executives often put off testing crisis plans as they get in the way of the day job. The irony here is obvious given how disruptive an incident can be,” said Sanchez.

“The C-suite must demonstrate its support for incident response planning and that it expects staff at all levels of the organization to play their part in recovering from serious incidents.”

“What these people need from the board is support,” said Jill Salmon, New York-based vice president, head of cyber/tech/MPL, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

“I don’t know that the information security folks are looking for direction from the board as much as they are looking for support from a resources standpoint and a visibility standpoint.

“They’ve got to be aware of what they need and they need to have the money to be able to build it up to that level,” she said.

Without that support, according to Legassick, failure to empower and encourage the IT team to manage cyber threats holistically through integration with the rest of the organization, particularly risk managers, becomes a common mistake.

He also warned that “blame culture” can prevent staff from escalating problems to management in a timely manner.

Collaboration and Communication

Given that cyber incident response truly is a team effort, it is therefore essential that a culture of collaboration, preparation and practice is embedded from the top down.

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One of the biggest tripping points for companies — and an area that has done the most damage from a reputational perspective — is in how quickly and effectively the company communicates to the public in the aftermath of a cyber event.

Salmon said of all the cyber incident response plans she has seen, the companies that have impressed her most are those that have written mock press releases and rehearsed how they are going to respond to the media in the aftermath of an event.

“We have seen so many companies trip up in that regard,” she said. “There have been examples of companies taking too long and then not explaining why it took them so long. It’s like any other crisis — the way that you are communicating it to the public is really important.” &

Antony Ireland is a London-based financial journalist. He can be reached at [email protected] Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]