National Comp 2021 is Back and In-Person. Here’s What to Look Forward to in Las Vegas

The premier workers’ compensation conference is slated for an in-person event in Las Vegas this October, with thought-provoking sessions and speakers.
By: | October 5, 2021

The National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference (National Comp) presented by Risk & Insurance® will return to Las Vegas in-person after last year’s virtual event.

As always, a rich array of sessions from industry leaders will provide attendees with everything from advice from medical and pharmaceutical management tips to updates on the latest legal and regulatory trends.

Popular favorites like the 60 Tips in 60 Minutes Session and the Teddy Awards panel will also be returning to the stage. The conference will also look ahead to the future, with a keynote session focused on the lessons we can learn from 2020.

In addition to these tried-and-true sessions and topics, the conference is bringing in new content for 2021. For the first time, the risk finance track will feature a panel session with workers’ compensation Power Brokers. The  conference has also added a mental health spotlight.

Leadership Keynote Looks Toward the Future

The keynote address this year will feature industry leaders’ lessons learned in 2020 and the actions they’re taking to power their teams in a changed world.

Moderated by Risk & Insurance® editor-in-chief Dan Reynolds, “How We Start Today to Better Lead the Workforce of Tomorrow” will feature four leaders from all realms of the industry.

Speakers include Andrea Buhl, president of managed care at Sedgwick; Denise Zoe Algire, director of risk initiatives & national medical director for Albertsons Companies; Michael Combs, president and CEO of CorVel Corporation; and Tom Veale, president, TRISTAR Insurance Group.

The session will focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for change in the industry. It will delve into how experts think the industry will evolve next year and going forward.

For Combs, starting today to build a better future means stepping back to assess the larger goal.

“It is critical to develop a strong team, encourage them to grow, and empower them to blaze their own trail. These are the people who will help you achieve your goals and meet your milestones—they will also be our future leaders,” he said.

More Ideas to Steal

Always popular, “Steal These Ideas! Teddy Award-Winning Employers Showcase Their Successful Strategies,” is again on the docket for National Comp attendees.

The lineup this year includes winners from the City of Philadelphia, JetBlue, and General Mills. Zoom’s head of cyber risk management Tamika Puckett and Michael MacAulay, senior vice president of sales for PMA Management Corp., will moderate the session.

“Teddy Award winners represent the best in our industry … They are innovators, risk takers, and push the envelope to move our industry forward,” said MacAulay.

“This is my seventh National Workers’ Comp Conference and Teddy Award session. I am always in awe listening to the creativity and courageousness the winners bring to their organization’s workers’ compensation programs and the compassion they have for employees. The solutions they have successfully implemented are the best part of the Teddy Award session.”

Kaleidoscope of Mental Health Offerings

New for 2021 is a bevy of sessions focused on mental health across participant tracks, with particular focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic has tested our mettle.

Panelists will dive into topics ranging from how to make the industry less stressful for claims adjusters to addressing PTSD and COVID- related mental health issues.

Focusing on the mental health of workers’ compensation professionals, the session “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First: Stress Management for Claims Professionals” will focus on solutions for high-speed, high-stress claims advocates. While focusing on one’s own stress management is undoubtedly the foundation for effective everyday work, another mental health session will broaden that focus, helping claims staff better communicate with injured workers facing traumatic stress.

“It isn’t easy to see the rewards in claims management when a job well done is often measured by reduced disability payment or closure rates,” said Angie Jung, senior nurse case manager/healthcare program administrator, ISYS Solutions Inc./CareerSmart Learning. Jung will be presenting during the session.

“It depersonalizes that claims management is a people-service business. A don’t ask, don’t tell attitude is no longer an effective solution in claims management.”

In another session, Sharon L’Heureux Dressel, risk manager for the City of Beverly Hills and Karen Thomas, director of case management innovation with CorVel Corporation, will discuss critical incidence stress debriefing, a methodology that has emerged as a tool to help employees who have witnessed a catastrophic or traumatic event cope.

Their case study will demonstrate how a city in Southern California partnered with its TPA to implement a traumatic stress program focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Both L’Heureux Dressel and Thomas are excited to see National Comp’s specific focus on these issues.

“We have a greater understanding of the importance of finding mental health specialists who understand the nature and requirements associated with treating an individual through the workers’ compensation system,” L’Heureux Dressel said of the critical incidence stress debriefing implementation with CorVel.

“It is important for employers to think about employees as whole people and understand what they struggle with at home impacts the workplace,” Thomas added.

That spotlight on the importance of mental well-being is, in the context of the recent year’s events, somewhat unprecedented, which is the central theme of another new session in the industry track from three workers’ comp experts from different sides of the equation.

Representatives from three types of companies – employer, payer and ancillary provider – will demonstrate practical ways to care for the mental wellbeing of employees in their presentation, “Unprecedented Times, Unforgettable Lessons on the Impact of Mental Wellbeing.”

“As you will see in our presentation, the pandemic has thrown mental health into a downward spiral on so many levels: Imagine how much more difficult this could be if someone suffers an injury?” said Teresa Williams, managing partner of Home Care Connect.

For fellow session presenter Erica Fichter, chief operating officer, Medical Management Accident & Health Claims at Broadspire, seeing that struggle means appreciating the gravity an injury has on the whole person.

“When an incident occurs for someone, whatever they were attached to is taken away, and along with that, their identity,” she said.

Dawn Soleta, claims manager with Ecolab Inc. believes that the three perspectives contained in this presentation will help attendees retain these crucial lessons.

Rounding out sessions addressing COVID-19 is “The New Rules of Infectious Disease Post-Pandemic: Adapt, Be Ready, Be Resilient,” featuring speaker Silvia Sacalis, vice president of Clinical Services for Healthesystems.

Sacalis is excited to share her new tricks of the trade with attendees, with respect to business continuity and disaster planning. She notes that emphasis on being more thoughtful in prioritizing the recovery of functions and processes is part of the “new normal.” &

National Comp — the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference — is back! We’re planning an in-person show for October, 20-22, 2021 and we’re excited to see everyone while still adhering to all safety protocols set forth by local and national health authorities at the time of the event.  Register today!

This year, we’ll feature seven tracks — from core content on medical and pharmaceutical management, claims and return-to-work, plus new and expanded avenues to explore like risk finance and injury prevention. All of our educational sessions are chosen for their ability to deliver sound takeaways and ideas that attendees can use right now.

In the meantime, National Comp will continue bringing you free virtual, educational content through our digital sessions series and our CompTalks program. Register today to make sure you don’t miss a digital session and check out our on-demand CompTalks library.  Missed a session? Watch it here on-demand.

Nina Luckman is a business journalist based in New Orleans, focusing primarily on the workers' compensation industry. Over the last several years, Nina has served as Editor of Louisiana Comp Blog, a news site she started in 2014 under the auspices of a group self-insurance fund. She can be reached at [email protected].

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