2015 NWCDC Keynote Preview

Keynote Speaker Driven to Improve Health Care

The 2015 opening keynote speaker for NWCDC is known for captivating audiences with his passion for health care.
By: | August 31, 2015

2014 NWCDC opening keynoter speaker Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, senior medical officer and director of the Office for Total Worker Health Coordination and Research at NIOSH.

Employers and workers’ compensation payers have grown increasingly interested in delivering quality health care that mitigates the rising costs of chronic health conditions, lengthy disabilities, and stubborn claims.

Yet determining what defines quality health care remains a challenge.

That is why the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo selected Arthur M. Southam M.D. to deliver the opening keynote presentation at this year’s event scheduled for Nov. 11-13 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Southam is executive VP health plan operations for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. He is known for driving measured improvements in medical care quality delivered by Kaiser, which serves 9.6 million health-plan members. As a speaker, Southam is also respected for captivating audiences with his passion for health care.

“Kaiser is an organization that has achieved multiple awards in terms of clinical excellence and the highest star rating from Medicare and medical group health programs,” said Denise Gillen-Algire, director, managed care and disability in corporate risk management for Albertsons Safeway Inc., and the conference’s program co-chair.

The keynote will focus on “leveraging what organizations have been able to do on the group health side and how we can use those tools in workers’ comp, and why that is important to employers.”

“So many organizations talk about either quality-focused networks or provider quality or quality outcomes, but how do you define ‘quality’ and how do you get there?” — Denise Gillen-Algire, director, managed care and disability in cor­porate risk management, Albertsons Safeway Inc.

Kaiser is the recipient of multiple awards from a variety of organizations, including the National Committee for Quality Assurance, U.S. News and World Report’s Top Hospitals, the Leapfrog Group, and J.D. Power and Associates.

“So many organizations talk about either quality-focused networks or provider quality or quality outcomes, but how do you define ‘quality’ and how do you get there,” Gillen-Algire said. “That’s how we came to Dr. Southam for the presentation.”

Several studies from leading workers’ comp research organizations have suggested that injured workers with comorbid conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension have higher costs per claim and longer disability durations. Thus, employers and other claims payers are increasingly interested in quality health care that can help improve claims outcomes when more injured workers suffer from those conditions.

“That’s the context. So if that’s the case, how do you check the quality of your providers, hospitals, your delivery system,” said Cyndy Larsen, area vice president for Kaiser On-the-Job, sales and account management. “Dr. Southam will discuss how did [Kaiser] get from where we were maybe 10 or 20 years ago to all these outside parties — like the NCQA, Leapfrog and J.D. Power and Associates — ranking us up there. What types of things had to be in place?”

Employers need to understand the importance of employees’ overall health and its impact on the workers’ comp system. Conference organizers say Southam’s experience on the group health side can demonstrate how workers’ comp can make similar improvements that lead to better outcomes.

“Really, group health is the bigger piece of the pie, and when you think of (the nation’s) total medical spend, workers’ comp is 2 or 3 percent,” Gillen-Algire said.

As Gillen-Algire explained, injured workers should be viewed in terms of their overall health, not just the occupa­tional injury at hand.

“That’s absolutely a focus,” she said. “You can’t split a person into pieces. A person doesn’t come to you as a 2 percent problem over here and the rest over here in group health. [It’s important to] be able to tie what organizations are doing on the group health side and why that is important for workers’ comp in employee health outcomes.”

Southam will deliver the opening keynote address, Achieving Excellence in Medical Treatment, on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at Mandalay Bay.

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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