Column: Workers' Comp

Telemedicine’s Urgent Questions

By: | April 7, 2017 • 2 min read
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.

The often-quoted, “If you build it, they will come,” from the movie “Field of Dreams” isn’t always a guiding principle in workers’ comp product offerings. Emerging products more often follow the marketing principle, “Get buyers to come and pay for it and then we’ll build it.”

It’s not always true. Some vendors carefully develop products before taking them to market. But frequently enough, they’re offered before sellers are ready to meet their big-picture promises.
We’ve seen these scenarios unfold with workers’ comp offerings like predictive modeling and high-performance doctor networks.

On the positive side, the practice spurs innovation. Larger, well-funded employers become early adopters, pushing vendors to improve their offerings. Vendors, meanwhile, gain vital customer feedback on performance.

Are products really capable of something new, or just streamlining existing capabilities, perhaps with a new label?

But the practice puts pressure on purchasers to study what they’re paying for. Is a product really built on a state-of-the-art platform or is it a reworked older system? Are products really capable of something new, or just streamlining existing capabilities, perhaps with a new label?


The growing application of technology means purchasers will need to ask those questions more frequently and spend more time learning. Telemedicine offers an example.

The big-picture promises of telemedicine in workers’ comp — that it will save money, reduce injured worker time away from the job, and improve access to medical care — are still largely somewhere out in the future, although occurring in small doses.

Lessons health care insurers learn about telemedicine will eventually migrate to workers’ comp. But right now, workers’ comp hasn’t even settled on what telemedicine is. Are existing nurse-triage systems using video technology really “telemedicine?”

Nurse-triage services have great value. But shouldn’t telemedicine be something more than a post-injury assessment of whether a worker needs first aid or an emergency room visit?

A more robust definition would encompass using video technology for post-surgical doctor visits, obtaining second opinions on surgery procedures and providing ongoing treatment.

In workers’ comp, those services are still challenging to provide on a broad, multi-state basis. Jurisdictional regulatory hurdles remain. It is also difficult for payers to offer telemedicine options when doctor networks are not prepared to deliver. Conversely, it’s challenging for doctor networks to promise care delivery when they don’t know how much telemedicine demand they might experience.

Despite the challenges, there are reasons for optimism that telemedicine will become available to more injured workers.

But with much of that promise still more buzz than proven capability, product buyers have a lot of questions they will need to ask and have answered. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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?


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?


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?


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]