AI, VR and CBT: How This National Comp Panel Aims to Immerse Audiences in the Healing Experience

This National Comp session on mental health in workers' comp promises an immersive experience like no other.
By: | October 10, 2022

Conferences hold a very special place for workers’ compensation professionals. Days of networking, sharing ideas and diving into innovations designed to protect workers and get them back to work after injury — what’s not to love?

National Comp 2022 promises to have its fair share of all these opportunities for attendees … and more.

More, you ask? Well, panelists in Wednesday, Oct. 19’s session “Breakthrough Solutions for the Mental Health Epidemic” are definitely focused on more — and with an ambitious goal.

As an immersive experience, this session will explore and illustrate the techniques being used to address mental health in workers’ comp claims, from coaching, AI applications, VR technology and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Just don’t expect this to be a typical panel discussion. The panelists intend to take a step back, as narrators of the presentation.

“Think Wizard of Oz,” said speaker Gerry Stanley, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Harvard MedTech. “We’re going to be behind the curtain.”

With lights, sounds, visuals and maybe even a (safe) firework or two, “Breakthrough Solutions for the Mental Health Epidemic” promises to be a presentation like you’ve never experienced at National Comp.

Spectacular, Spectacular

Stanley explained that the genesis of the session came from a desire to really see the industry innovate.

“[At conferences] we’re always saying we’re going to do innovative things,” he said. But, for him, talking about VR technology — an immersive experience of its own — didn’t feel innovative enough.

In fact, the use of VR in workers’ comp sparked his and his fellow panelists’ imagination.

“Using virtual reality that’s guided by the behavioral health clinicians, it gives the ability to immerse and engage a person’s brain, which promotes healing,” he said.

So, why couldn’t a conference session do that too?

“If we can expand that idea into a room full of 120 people and we can immerse and engage them in an experience for 50 minutes and captivate them in something that’s completely different than anything they’ve seen at a conference before — that is dipping their toe in the water of virtual reality,” Stanley said.

Why Make a Spectacle of it? It’s About Healing Workers

At its core, this session aims to provide attendees with information on the mental health epidemic spreading across the U.S. and how workers’ compensation professionals can address its impact on claims.

“As an industry, we need to start treating people, not diseases,” said Stanley. “We need to understand that mental illness is endemic to the human condition.”

The idea of “buying the mental health claim” feels almost antiquated in this day and age; nationwide, almost one in five people are living with a mental health condition in the U.S. — that’s roughly 4.7 million people.

No matter the work injury, workers will bring with them a certain psychosocial element to their claim. Workers’ comp, as an industry, would be remiss to ignore it.

“Mental illness is driving a huge percentage of our volatile claims. It drives expenses and can create bad outcomes,” said Stanley. “We have, for the first time, the ability to leverage the power of each person’s brain to tap into, to heal people intrinsically without drugs or without surgery.”

The setting designed for the session will take attendees into how this type of therapy is helping patients dealing with mental health issues. The aim is to inspire viewers, to show in an immersive way how exactly how these technologies can combine to provide psychosocial support.

Virtual reality, said Stanley, taps into the power of the brain.

Gerry Stanley, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Harvard MedTech

“This can promote healing; decrease and lessen the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and pain; and actually get people sleeping better,” he said. “It’s the newest tool where people can be treated completely non-surgical and non-pharmacological.”

The added benefit of VR: “Injured workers think it’s cool. They think it’s fun.”

To be clear, the spectacle of the lights, sounds and visuals these presenters have up their sleeves isn’t going to distract from the message; the spectacle, Stanley reiterated, is the message.

Join Us at National Comp

Stanley, along with panelists Pearl Monroe, vice president of operation, MC Innovations, and Karen Thomas, vice president, clinical solutions, CorVel Corporation, will present their session — or show, if you will — on Oct. 19 at 3:30 PM in Session Room 2.

National Comp attendees, Stanley posits, will walk away from this experience inspired.

“People will walk away with a little bit of awe in the sense that we have the ability to treat people without drugs or surgery,” he said.

“We have that ability to tackle patients in a biopsychosocial way. We have the ability to look at psychosocial determinants of health. We have the ability to support people in novel ways,” Stanley added.I want people to walk away and feel inspired that they have tools at their fingertips to change people’s lives.” &

Autumn Demberger is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected].

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