5 Workers’ Comp Professionals Weigh in on How Much the Industry Has Changed

Risk & Insurance® asked five top workers' comp veterans about the most impactful innovations they've seen during their tenure in the industry.
By: | October 26, 2018

We asked workers’ compensation professionals from award-winning institutions to tell us what they think are the most significant changes to the workers’ comp world since they started in the industry.

Below are their insights.

R&I: What do you think has been the most significant change or the most effective innovation that has occurred since you entered the workers’ comp profession?

Barbara Schultz,
former director of employee health and wellness, Valley Health

Barbara Schultz

Former director of employee health and wellness, Valley Health

2017 Teddy Award Winner

The most effective innovation that has changed and improved the workers’ compensation world is technology. Technology has enabled us to look at the entire workers’ compensation continuum with new eyes and provides us not only a wide range of new tools for claims management, but also a vast array of analytics that measure our successes and opportunities. The most exciting part is that with the explosion of this technology, we can look forward to further improvements and outcomes not only for the employers but for the employees.


Senior editor, Risk & Insurance®; chair, National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo

Roberto Ceniceros

Senior editor, Risk & Insurance®; chair, National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo

Workers’ Compensation Columnist

Replacing human claims adjuster judgment with decision-making technology is without question the most significant change witnessed since I entered the workers’ comp industry many years ago. Many of its promises haven’t yet come to fruition. Some predictive modeling systems, for instance, left risk managers wondering what they gained. On the other hand, there are a number of reasons why automated decision-making will continue growing — worker hiring and retainment trends being one of them.


Frank Rivera, director, risk management and workers’ comp, Massachusetts Port Authority

Frank Rivera

Director, risk management and workers’ comp, Massachusetts Port Authority

2017 Teddy Award Winner

The sophistication of risk management software systems (RMIS) has been the largest industry innovation since my start as a claims adjuster 23 years ago. Back then, I spent my days staring at a spinach- green screen, which offered only the simplest functionality. A claims manager would refer to a written guide to determine next steps with little to no assistance from the system. Trend analysis required hours of time reviewing a report generated from a high-speed band printer. Organizations today have 24/7 access to systems that allow risk/claims managers the ability to pinpoint loss data that affects their company’s bottom line. Easily gathering data has allowed quicker corrective action to minimize or eliminate risks. Access to data has also assisted organizations with protecting their greatest asset — their employees.


Monica Manske, senior manager of workers’ compensation and employee safety, Rochester Regional Health

Monica Manske

 Senior manager of workers’ compensation and employee safety, Rochester Regional Health

2017 Teddy Award Winner

The evolution of technology pushed the most significant change in the industry and continues to do so. We went from a paper-pencil process for reporting injuries and completing state forms where we saw lag time upwards of 28 days to receive an event. These manual processes cause delays in our efforts to eliminate hazards in the workplace and more importantly limit our ability to help our employees get the treatment they need, enabling them to return to meaningful work. Now not only are the forms and processes available electronically; we have robust analytics and carrier information at our fingertips, can leverage portable devices and are now seeing growth in telemedicine and artificial intelligence. These advances streamlined the industry by providing real time information which enables us to provide a better employee experience and with innovation and standardization, more timely and informed decisions.


Susan Emerson, general manager, claims management, disability, leave and workers’ compensation claims, Delta Air Lines

Susan Emerson

General manager, claims management, disability, leave and workers’ compensation claims, Delta Air Lines

2017 Teddy Award Winner

Direct deposit for workers’ comp benefits regardless of the length of time for disability. It eliminates paper checks and relying on the snail mail. Some TPAs or claim administrators only offer direct deposit for injured workers that have anticipated claim durations longer than 4-6 weeks. However, if an employer sets it up in their HR data feed and enables automatic direct deposit for injured workers, then it can be done more quickly. Direct deposit also allows the employee to be reimbursed quickly for approved out-of-pocket expenses. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]