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Workers' Comp Technology

Survey: Telemedicine Can Contain Costs, Improve Outcomes

A new survey by Mitchell International Inc. looks at the role advanced technologies may play in workers’ comp.
By: | December 4, 2017 • 2 min read

Rising medical costs continue to be a thorn in the side of workers’ compensation professionals. According to a 2016 report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, medical benefits on lost time per claim rose from around $9,000 in 2003 to $28,500 in 2015 — an increase of more than 216 percent.

Industry leaders can’t do much to make X-rays, surgeries, physical therapy, or prescriptions any cheaper, but they are increasingly looking to advanced technologies to help contain costs through improved efficiency in delivery of care and claims management, among other areas.

According to survey of 275 U.S. workers’ compensation professionals conducted by Mitchell International Inc., most in the industry expect to adopt an advanced technology solution in the next five years. Thirty-three percent said their organization was “somewhat likely” to adopt new technology, while nearly 25 percent said it was “very likely.”

Chief among those new technologies is telemedicine. Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents think telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the workers’ comp industry, followed by artificial intelligence (19 percent), mobile apps (14 percent), and wearable devices (10 percent). According to a market research report by Orbis Research, the U.S. telemedicine market is projected to grow at a rate of 6 percent per year for the next two years, reaching a value of $7 billion by 2020.

The U.S. telemedicine market is projected to grow at a rate of 6 percent per year for the next two years, reaching a value of $7 billion by 2020.

Eighty-four percent of respondents think these technologies will improve automation efficiency primarily in claims and medical management — areas where controlling the direction of care can help to avoid unnecessary expenses and contain costs. Cost containment was the most influential reason why workers’ compensation organizations adopt advanced technologies, according to 54 percent of surveyed professionals.

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Within the realm of claims operations, respondents were fairly evenly split when asked which areas will be most impacted by new technologies — claims triage, direction of care, fraud management, and risk mitigation — with 16 to 18 percent of respondents identifying each of these functions.

Twenty-eight percent, however, said tech can have the greatest influence on improved medical outcomes. In addition to controlling costs, after all, workers’ compensation professionals want to ensure injured workers get the best and most appropriate care. Technologies that can improve outcomes while trimming costs benefit injured workers and workers’ compensation providers alike.

“As the workers’ compensation industry continues to navigate the ongoing challenges of rising health care costs and the need to create operational efficiencies, it’s clear that stakeholders are eager to explore the potential benefits of adopting advanced technologies,” said Shahin Hatamian, Mitchell’s senior vice president of product management and strategy, Casualty Solutions division, in a press release.

Mitchell will have the full survey results available at the company’s booth at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® in Las Vegas, Dec. 5 – Dec. 8.

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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

The Profession

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

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

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

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

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I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

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

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

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

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

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

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

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

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

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

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Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

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

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

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

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

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

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

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

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

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

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A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

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

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

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

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

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

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

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