Book Your Ticket: Here’s What You Can’t Miss at NWCDC

Medical marijuana, the raging opioid epidemic and the proliferation of technology are just some of the topics NWCDC will cover this year.
By: | October 8, 2019

From medical marijuana and the opioid epidemic to how to better integrate technology within the industry and the effectiveness of claims advocacy approaches, there’s a wide array of trending topics competing for the attention of workers’ compensation professionals.

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But sometimes the big catchy headlines obscure the true purpose of the profession: helping workers heal.

At the 2019 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo in Las Vegas, speakers will hit upon those trending topics, but their messages will be geared towards using expertise to drive practical solutions for injured workers.

“There’s a real opportunity… to see what are some of the emerging things that may prompt all of us to think about how we could run our businesses a little bit differently,” said Joe Berardo Jr.,CEO of Carisk Partners and a presenter at the conference.

This year’s keynote speaker is an addiction specialist and frequent TV and radio guest. Dr. Drew Pinsky will dive right into tangible solutions for one of the industry’s — and the nation’s — most pressing concerns: the opioid epidemic.

“We’ve looked at opioid addiction for some time, from various angles within the conference,” said Denise Algire, director of risk initiatives and corporate risk management at Albertsons Companies and program co-chair of NWCDC.

“I think what Doctor Drew brings to this is really prevention: What are key strategies for prevention? And what is addiction? How do you identify it? And how does it impact people, both in the workplace and out in our communities?”

“What are available resources in our communities that we may not be aware of in traditional workers’ compensation programs?”

Other sessions will offer advice on injury prevention, medical management and integrating technology into workers’ comp among other topics. But connecting these hot topics to practical solutions will remain key.

Injury Prevention is the Name of the Game

A number of sessions at this year’s conference will focus on injury prevention and the issue of how to prevent claims from deteriorating.

“Oftentimes we talk about what we do after an accident happens. Well, what do we do on the prevention side? And how do we connect that with our workers’ compensation program?” Algire said.

Denise Algire, director of risk initiatives and corporate risk management, Albertsons Companies; program co-chair, NWCDC

Dr. Gary Franklin’s mega session, “Disability Prevention: What’s Needed to Keep Routine Claims From Deteriorating,” will bring this focus into the disability landscape. Algire considers it one of the “can’t miss” talks of the conference.

“His session will talk about disability prevention and how to drive results,” she said.

“I’m sure during his session he will dovetail from the keynote session, because there is a lot of crossover between ad-diction, opioids and disability prevention.”

The conference also has a breakout session “Leveraging Technology to Connect Pre- and Post-Loss Strategies,” which will combine two different themes that the conference’s organizers wanted to emphasize this year: The connection between pre- and post-loss and the use of technology throughout the workers’ compensation landscape.

“One of the things that we thought was really important to talk about this year was the connection between pre-loss and post-loss,” Algire said.

Medical Management: When You Can’t Prevent an Injury

When it comes to workplace injuries, everyone involved wants to do whatever it takes to prevent employees from getting hurt in the first place.

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But how a company responds during and after the event is equally critical, which is why medical management remains an important topic for employers.

“Medical management is a significant component of workers’ compensation claims,” Algire said.

“And even with sessions that aren’t necessarily in the medical track you can obviously see medical impacts.”

Within the medical management track, sessions like “The Opioid Epidemic: Mitigating Safety and Health Risks for Employees” and “The High Cost of Drugs and What to Do About Them!” will address issues that have been hitting the headlines, while others will offer more targeted advice.

The session “Managing Amputation Cases for Optimal Outcomes” will help attendees learn best practices for dealing with one of the most catastrophic kinds of claims.

Outside of the medical management track, sessions like “Marijuana, WC and Disability: A Medical and Legal Update” will delve into the confusion providers, program managers and patients face when trying to understand the role of medical marijuana within workers’ compensation.

“Medical marijuana has been a hot topic at many different conferences,” Algire said.

“I think there’s a lot of myths out there in terms of the impact of marijuana on pain and comparisons with opioids. The speakers will touch on that, what research is there and what part of it is hype.”

It’s All About that Tech

Since the technology track was added in 2017, data and technological advances have flooded the workers’ compensation industry, impacting everything from the treatments that are available to how companies manage their programs.

“In many of the sessions a common thread is using technology and data. Whether you’re dealing with claims, legal, disability management, or overall program management,” Algire said.

Joe Berardo Jr., CEO, Carisk Partners

That thread begins with the pre-conference session “How Do You Measure the Success of Your Workers’ Comp Pro-gram?” aimed at helping companies leverage their data to make sure their programs are effective.

“This session is led by industry experts that will be able to walk through some specific financial metrics, and how to utilize existing resources, and how to really focus on what matters,” Algire said.
Other sessions show how technological advances can align with risk management to prevent injuries.

The session “Exoskeletons as a Form of Personal Protective Equipment for Preventing Shoulder Injuries” will help attendees understand how these tools work with the human body and how they can protect against workplace fatigue.

Lessons You Can Take Home

As always, the conference’s depth of content will offer plenty of lessons attendees can bring to their own companies and programs.

Sessions like “Proactive Strategies to Get Injured Workers Back on the Job” and Berardo’s “Mergers and Acquisitions: Proceed With Caution or Advance with Agility” will offer practical advice in workers’ compensation program management and in running a growing business in this space.

“I plan to touch on how management teams should think about their role in creating a business that has value,” Berardo said.

“If they’re torn between how to run their business, by running it to be attractive to investors or running it to create value for my customers, I’m going to get into the do’s and don’ts there,” Berardo said.

“I’ll also provide some guiding principles on what they should be thinking about every day.”

Each year, the mega-session “Steal These Ideas! Teddy Award-Winning Employers Showcase Their Successful Strategies,” highlights award-winning workers’ compensation programs, allowing attendees to learn from the best.

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The Teddy Award, judged by a panel of workers’ compensation experts, is the most prestigious workers’ compensation program excellence award in the industry.
Steal-worthy ideas also abound in the conference’s 34 breakout sessions, which cover a broad range of topics. Berardo advises attendees to plan ahead so they can capitalize on all the opportunities to meet people who can help their businesses.

“Everybody you need to talk to is in one place at one time and it’s really important to capitalize on that,” he said.

“I usually come away with the opportunity to partner with one or two other companies in developing a program or services that make us both stronger.”

If you’re still hungry for more after the break-out sessions, mega-sessions and pre-conference sessions, the conference kicks off its final day with the session “60 Tips in 60 Minutes — Avoiding Medical Mismangement’s Claims Fall-out.”

With speakers including two former Teddy winners, chief medical officers, workers’ compensation managers and an attorney, this session should offer information for everyone — a hallmark of the conference as a whole. &

About the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo:

As the largest National Workers’ Comp and Disability Conference for more than 25 years, NWCDC offers endless opportunities that will propel your workers’ comp and disability management programs forward.  With the biggest Expo in the industry, you’ll be able to touch, compare and contrast the newest solutions from leading vendors in every category, and gain knowledge on-the-go at in-depth sponsored sessions on the show floor. Additionally, NWCDC offers valuable networking opportunities so you can make important contacts and share strategies with your peers.

You can also customize your learning experience with breakout sessions in six distinct program tracks: Claims Management, Medical Management, Program Management, Disability Management, Legal/Regulatory, and Technology. Plus, you’ll hear from Risk & Insurance’s Teddy Award winners for excellence in lowering workers’ comp risk.

Learn more about NWCDC and special savings for Risk & Insurance® subscribers here.

Courtney DuChene is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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