Hearing from Employers

This year’s National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo will feature more input on the employer’s risk perspective.
By: | October 15, 2014

Employer engagement and superior service provider performance are acknowledged keys to successfully managing workers’ compensation claims.

Those employers that care enough to produce great results for their injured workers don’t tend to beat their own drums, though.

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But they will get an unprecedented chance to share their strategies and practices on a wide range of workers’ compensation topics at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nov. 19-21.

Two speakers from Harley-Davidson, for example, will discuss claims-mitigation practices that saved their company millions of dollars. Those practices include integrating a variety of company resources including health services, safety and ergonomics expertise.

They will also tell how Harley-Davidson integrated the services of vendor partners, such as BTE Technologies, which helps return injured employees to the job and keeps others working with a post-offer employment testing program that assesses functional ability to safely perform work, said Beth Mrozinsky, the motorcycle manufacturer’s director of safety and health.

Their work has helped address challenges common in many U.S. workplaces, such as those driven by an aging workforce.

Harley-Davidson’s successes also come from integrating vendor partners to help explore loss-reduction processes. The company is increasingly applying those processes to non-occupational injuries after proving them successful in mitigating occupational issues, Mrozinksi said.

“We work really hard with our vendor partners to really pull this together,” Mrozinsky said. “We are almost like one unit that thinks through these processes.”

In another session, speakers Darin Hampton, workers’ compensation regional coordinator at International Paper, and Jodie L. Massingill, senior manager, casualty claims at Sysco Corp., will share their strategies for successfully overseeing a range of services and how they get the best possible support from vendor partners.

In addition to employers, presenters will include representatives from some of the nation’s largest workers’ comp insurers, third-party administrators, brokers, managed care companies and attorneys specializing in workers’ compensation.

Focus on Medical

A growing trend to improve the quality of medical care delivered to injured workers relies on measuring doctor performance to build networks limited to providers capable of producing the best claims outcomes.

Jane Ish, national networks director for Liberty Mutual Insurance, will present a conference session on outcomes-based networks.

“We believe if you start right with the right physician and his entire medical ecosystem — in terms of who he counts on for referring — then you are more likely to have injured workers go back to work quicker and reduced medical costs,” she said.

Randy L. Triplett, workers’ compensation and integrated disability manager for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., will join Ish in the presentation.

Other current challenges and the tools being applied to mitigate them will also receive prominent attention at the conference.

Jim Andrews, executive VP of pharmacy services at Healthcare Solutions Inc., and David Smith, divisional VP of risk management at Family Dollar Stores Inc., for example, will talk about how analytics and predictive modeling help identify and prevent drug abuse.

The nation’s growing diversity and that dynamic’s impact on workers’ comp and disability management will be examined by Jennifer De La Torre, executive director of workforce diversity at AT&T and formerly the company’s director of risk management.

Elizabeth Demaret, executive VP, chief customer relationship officer at Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., will join De La Torre.

De La Torre said considerations of racial and ethnic diversity, treatment of veterans in the workforce and age differences are all impacting workers’ comp management strategies.

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Expect to hear session topics not commonly offered at workers’ comp conferences, but that nonetheless have significant impact on the industry and employer programs.

Three private equity executives, whose firms owned well-known workers’ comp companies, will discuss the growing influence of private equity in this business. It is unusual for private equity leaders to address a workers’ comp crowd, said Joe Paduda, principal at Health Strategy Associates LLC.

“Private equity people speak at investor conferences and at some other conferences, but never to my knowledge in a workers’ comp-related conference,” said Paduda, who will moderate the session. “Especially folks like these who actually assess the business, follow the workers’ comp industry and really understand it at both a granular and strategic level.”

Paduda promised to allow plenty of time for audience questions.

“We are going to have an extended question and answer [time] just because there is so much interest in the role of private equity in the workers’ comp business,” he said.

Regulatory Compliance

Legal and regulatory issues are also on tap.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 2013 temporary worker initiative directed its field inspectors to place greater emphasis on assessing whether employers using temp workers comply with their responsibilities.

“There has been a lot of postulation about what the ACA’s impact is on the industry.”  —Denise Zoe Gillen-Algire, director, managed care and disability corporate risk, Safeway Inc.

Corey Berghoefer, senior VP, risk management and insurance for Ranstad, a global employment services provider, will join two workers’ comp attorneys to discuss OSHA’s initiative and other risk-management considerations accompanying current growth in temp worker hiring.

“I’ll talk about the duties and responsibilities, and how OSHA will come in during an investigation and view each of the parties,” he said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is another current topic that conference speakers will weigh in on at a session titled “Healthcare Reform: Strategies You Can Apply Now.”

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Denise Zoe Gillen-Algire, director, managed care and disability corporate risk, Safeway Inc.

“There has been a lot of postulation about what the ACA’s impact is on the industry,” said Denise Zoe Gillen-Algire, director, managed care and disability corporate risk at Safeway Inc. and the conference’s program co-chair. “We want to say, ‘OK, what is the takeaway? What does it mean to employers?’ We want to take that information and say, ‘What can you do as employers to manage your workers’ comp program and either prepare or mitigate some of the impacts?’ ”

William Wilt, president of Assured Research, will join Gillen-Algire.

Here are some other presentations:

Opening Keynote: Integrating Employees’ Health and Well-Being to Improve the Bottom Line
L. Casey Chosewood, M.D., is senior medical officer and director of the Office for Total Worker Health Coordination and Research Support at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Chosewood will demonstrate how to reduce employer costs by integrating occupational health and safety with health promotion and post-injury management.

Session: Modeling Managed Care for Program Impact
Speakers from two large, self-insured employers and a national workers’ comp consultant will explain managed care services and how to evaluate which ones deliver the best outcomes and greatest cost savings.
Speakers: Barry Bloom, principal at The bdb Group; John Riggs, manager of workers’ compensation, Disneyland Resort; and John Smolk, principal manager, workers’ compensation, Southern California Edison.

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Session: Risk Financing: Selecting the Best Option for Your Company
Mark Walls, conference program co-chair and VP, communications and strategic analysis at Safety National, will cover a range of considerations for employers weighing various insurance arrangements. From buying first-dollar coverage and large deductible programs to self-insuring, he will lay out the key considerations for each.

Session: Loss Mitigation of High Value Workers’ Compensation Claims
Hear about risk analysis that can identify old claims previously considered incapable of being resolved. The session will seek audience participation while discussing several cost drivers such as treating-doctor issues and Medicare set-asides.
Speakers: Christianne Quinn, national workers’ compensation manager at Pep Boys; and David R. Kunz, managing partner at Kunz & Germick.

Session: Behavior-Based Safety Program: How You Can Prevent Injuries and Improve Product Quality
Safety and product quality go hand in hand, so a behavior-based safety program stands to improve loss prevention and high-quality production throughout a company.
Speaker: Julia Sfurm, corporate senior risk operations manager, Elkay Manufacturing Co.

Visit www.wcconference.com/agenda.html for a look at the conference’s complete agenda.

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.

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