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.


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.


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. &


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

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]