2016 Teddy Awards: Honorable Mention

Saving Time and Money

Applying Lean Six Sigma to its workers' comp processes earned Atlantic Health an Honorable Mention Teddy Award.
By: | November 2, 2016 • 3 min read

Putting together a Lean Six Sigma Project at Atlantic Health System made all the difference to its workers’ compensation results.

A retrospective review in 2014 of 2013 work injuries revealed that back and shoulder injuries were the most frequent and had the highest costs, said Linda Reiher, manager of occupational medicine service, at the organization that has five hospitals and nearly 16,000 employees in New Jersey.

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The average days out of work for these types of injuries was 41 days in 2013, she said. “Having an employee out of work costs AHS money.”

After analyzing the data, Atlantic Health realized that there were delays in various steps in their workers’ compensation process.

“From reviewing our data, I noticed obtaining imaging and specialist appointments were responsible for some of these delays,” she said.

To provide more focused care, the nonprofit organization hired Donna Brucker, a registered nurse, to fill the newly created position of RN workers’ compensation case manager. In the past, nurse practitioners did most of the case management for workers’ comp cases, but they had a great many other responsibilities as well, thus leaving little time for effective case management, Reiher said.

“Although case management was important, things were not operating as efficiently as they should ,” Reiher said.

The Atlantic Lean Team: left to right, bottom row: Margaret Skurka, Linda Reiher. Top row: Beth Del Pino, Laureen O'Rourke, Joanne Brubaker, Rachel Leibu, Donna Naturale, Donna Brucker

The Atlantic Lean Team: left to right, bottom row: Margaret Skurka, Linda Reiher. Top row: Beth Del Pino, Laureen O’Rourke, Joanne Brubaker, Rachel Leibu, Donna Naturale, Donna Brucker

That has changed with the addition of Brucker, as well as Laureen O’Rourke as the coordinator who is responsible for assisting with the management of some of the sites, she said.

“Case management is Donna Brucker’s primary focus and both nurses are vigilant about shepherding the patient throughout the recovery process,” Reiher said.

“The Lean Project’s initial goal was to reduce out-of-work days [lost time] from 41 days to 35 days,” she said. “We were able to reduce our out-of-work days from our goal of 35 days to just 9 days, an 80 percent decrease.”

Atlantic Health System also saw a 70 percent reduction in the amount of time it took to schedule appointments to see a specialist, and a significant reduction in time from injury date to the first Occupational Medicine Service (OMS) appointment. This metric was reduced from eight days to 1.4 days.

The Lean project pilot had an estimated savings of more than $900,000 in workers’ compensation costs.

“The Lean project was a big success,” Reiher said, noting that it earned an Organizational Effectiveness President’s Award from Atlantic Health System.

“The most important thing,” said Dr. Rachel Leibu, medical director, OMS, “is we maintained continuity of patient care and we were able to effectively manage workers’ compensation injuries, minimize costs and provide excellent care to employees.”

“The Lean Project’s initial goal was to reduce out-of-work days [lost time] from 41 days to 35 days. We were able to reduce our out-of-work days from our goal of 35 days to just 9 days, an 80 percent decrease.” — Linda Reiher, manager, occupational medicine service, Atlantic Health System

To help protect the health of its patients and employees, OMS instituted a mandatory vaccination program in 2013 to protect against influenza and pertussis. They also more recently introduced iPad technology to help control costs related to its mandatory flu vaccine campaign. The new system better tracks compliance with the initiative by reducing the number of illegibly signed paper consent forms and potentially misplaced lost paperwork, as well as decreasing data entry and electronic medical record scanning time.

An electronic Flu Dashboard assists management with tracking employee vaccination status. The dashboard also provides for efficient identification of employees who were granted vaccine exemptions for medical or religious reasons, Leibu said. Exempt employees who are not vaccinated must wear masks when entering an AHS clinical facility when a threshold level of activity exists in the community.

Technology has also aided Atlantic Health in tracking injuries that are trending upward, so that safety initiatives can be instituted when a hazard is revealed, she said.

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For example, dim lighting and multiple electric cords in operating rooms were causing tripping hazards. A process to bundle the device cords together while increasing education about the hazard reduced incidents, Leibu said.

Atlantic Health also began mandatory classes for nurses and other employees to help protect them from workplace violence, which is a national safety hazard in the health care field. The classes include education on how to diffuse situations when visitors or patients act out as well as self-defense methods.

For its success in enhancing its workers’ compensation processes, Atlantic Health System was awarded a 2016 Teddy Award Honorable Mention. &

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Read more about the 2016 Teddy Award winners:

target-150x150Bringing Focus to Broad Challenges: Target brings home a 2016 Teddy Award for serving as an advocate for its workers, pre- and post-injury, across each of its many operations.

 

hrt-150x150The Road to Success: Accountability and collaboration turned Hampton Roads Transit’s legacy workers’ compensation program into a triumph.

 

excela-150x150Improve the Well-Being of Every Life: Excela Health changed the way it treated injuries and took a proactive approach to safety, drastically reducing workers’ comp claims and costs.

 

harder-150x150The Family That’s Safe Together: An unwavering commitment to zero lost time is just one way that Harder Mechanical Contractors protects the lives and livelihoods of its workers.

 

More coverage of the 2016 Teddy Awards:

Recognizing Excellence: The judges of the 2016 Teddy Awards reflect on what they learned, and on the value of awards programs in the workers’ comp space.

Fit for Duty: 2013 Teddy Winner Miami-Dade County Public Schools is managing comorbid risk factors by getting employees excited about healthy living.

Saving Time and Money: Applying Lean Six Sigma to its workers’ comp processes earned Atlantic Health a Teddy Award Honorable Mention.

Caring for the Caregivers: Adventist Health Central Valley Network is achieving stellar results by targeting its toughest challenges.

Advocating for Injured Workers: By helping employees navigate through the workers’ comp system, Cottage Health decreased lost work days by 80 percent.

A Matter of Trust: St. Luke’s workers’ comp program is built upon relationships and a commitment to care for those who care for patients.

Keeping the Results Flowing: R&I recognizes the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for a commonsense approach that’s netting continuous improvement.

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

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

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

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

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The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

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

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

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

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

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

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The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

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

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

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

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

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

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A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

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

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

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

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

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

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.




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