Mitchell Report Shows Workers’ Comp Tech Adoption Is on the Rise. Where Does Your Company Stand?

Mitchell's Q2 Industry Trends Report looks at the pandemic's impact on workers' compensation and claims process capabilities.
By: | July 10, 2021

In a world still reeling from the effects of a pandemic, many facets of everyday and professional life will surely be altered. The same is to be said for the insurance and risk management world.

Mitchell recently released its Q2 Industry Trends Report (ITR) for 2021 with a main spotlight on how COVID-19 impacted new technologies and methods within claims management and the workers’ compensation industry.

Specifically, the report focuses on not only the shifts the technologies utilized have undergone but also on general industry trends and their impact on other changes as well. Technologies that were noted and studied in the report include diagnostic testing, predictive analytics, imaging equipment and telehealth.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, the industry is undergoing an interesting transition from several different angles,” said Rebecca Morgan, vice president of product management at Mitchell.

Many of these transitional instances are likely to remain in some capacity as the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

Exploring the Workers’ Compensation Trends

To no surprise, 40% of the report’s respondents said they believed the sudden pressures of the pandemic were the main contributor to the industry’s technology adoption.

Among the top technology trends within the workers’ comp space were predictive analytics and telemedicine. The report found  the workers’ comp industry is increasing its pace when it comes to technology adoption, especially seen during the pandemic.

Obviously, the use of telemedicine soared amid stay-at-home orders in early 2020. While the number of telemedicine patients has expectedly decreased, the platform is still being utilized as an integral avenue to administering health care services. Morgan credits this to technology adoption as well as convenience for patients.

The report found that more than 50% of organizations surveyed have incorporated telemedicine capabilities since the pandemic’s onset.

The report also stated 35% of surveyed organizations believe telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the workers’ comp space over the next five to ten years.

Telemedicine can be utilized in a number of health care scenarios, with provider visits being the most popular at 54%. While this finding isn’t surprising, the report also stresses the importance of innovation in the telemedicine space, which “could serve a more vital purpose in helping improve outcomes for injured employees.”

Additionally, telemedicine was found to be the most popular technology that organizations used throughout the pandemic. The report predicts there is a considerable amount of room for telemedicine to grow in the future, which would include technology innovation, increased technical training and more permanent regulatory changes.

Rebecca Morgan, vice president of product management, Mitchell

Predictive analytics also made a lasting impact for organizations, as 35% of respondents said they believed it would have such an impact on workers’ comp in the next five to ten years. While organizations ranked both telemedicine and predictive analytics as being the most influential on the industry prior to the pandemic, these numbers increased after the pandemic began.

When it comes to specific usage of predictive analytics in workers’ comp, the report found that the top methods of application were claim triage, intelligent decisioning and claim automation. All three applications work to provide a more accurate and efficient claims management process.

There’s Still Room to Grow

Despite workers’ comp’s adoption of various technologies over the last year, the report found there are still areas where the industry could catch up.

One area is the automation of workers’ comp medical bills. To be considered an efficient work process, 60-70% of medical bills should be processed automatically without the need for human intervention, respondents believed.

The report also found 22.5% of respondents said their organization utilizes automation for 50% or more of its medical bills. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said their organization processes less than 25% of medical bills through automation. And 24% of participants stated their organization only processes 0-5% of claims with automation.

And while the report recognizes that workers’ comp does need some degree of human connection, the industry’s level of automation could certainly increase. As technology continues to improve and undergo innovation, it’s integral for the workers’ comp space to find a balance when incorporating these automation processes.

Moving Forward: What’s the Biggest Challenge for Organizations?

The pandemic changed the way we live, interact and work. With vaccine distribution in full swing and states lifting pandemic-set restrictions, normalcy is beginning to meet us once again.

However, the pandemic left us with a new set of challenges and a new normal to return to. Twenty-two percent of survey respondents concluded that conforming to challenges from the pandemic is the biggest hurdle for claims organizations currently.

Other challenges included workflow efficiency, cost pressures and return-to-work time.

Morgan stressed that while these challenges are real, organizations are also experiencing growth opportunity simultaneously.

“While the industry has been faced with clear challenges over the past year, it’s also begun to adapt for the better,” she said.

“From new types of imaging equipment to advancements in predictive analytics, the workers’ compensation industry is on the precipice of critical transformation, in some cases driven by the pandemic, that will best serve all stakeholders and injured workers both presently and in the future.” &

Emma Brenner is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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