2017 NWCDC

Living Abled!

Healthier workplaces are possible with a simple paradigm shift.
By: | December 8, 2017

Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Focus on wellness and prevention, not illness. Be a positive influence. Create and help others to create a joyful, productive life.

Christopher Brigham, MD, president, Brigham and Associates Inc.

It’s a simple yet profound message that has the potential to reshape the world of workers’ compensation. Delivered Dec. 7 by Christopher R. Brigham, MD, president, Brigham and Associates Inc., at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo, the message is consistent with an emerging view that workers’ comp resources are best spent focusing on restoring workers to good health and their jobs, rather than engaging in lengthy claims processes that drain resources and good will.

“The claims process should engage and empower injured or ill workers,” said Brigham, who also is an author and motivational speaker. “Workers are family. They make our businesses what they are.”

Brigham’s view extends beyond the workers’ comp process and spills into every area of life. Health, he said, is not merely the absence of an injury or illness; rather it is a total commitment to a healthy body, mind and spirit.

He encouraged the audience to work to prevent illness rather than just treat it and to commit to healthy lifestyle choices such as mindfulness, proper diet, sleep, exercise, mitigating stress and developing meaningful personal relationships.

Medical treatment, he said, should help people become healthier, not keep them sick. For example, a patient with a bad back should not simply be treated with medicine again and again. This approach has contributed to what is now an opioid crisis in the U.S.

While medicine has its place, we need to treat patients holistically. Can we help the patient lose weight? Exercise? Eat better? What support does he need to make these lifestyle changes?

“We create better outcomes when we focus on the positive, not negative, and functioning, not symptoms,” Brigham said. And while he notes that trying to change cultures can breed resentment, creating compassionate cultures will benefit both employees and companies. &

Mercedes Ott is the former managing editor of Risk & Insurance. Comments or questions about this article can be addressed to [email protected].

More from Risk & Insurance