Want to Speak at NWCDC 2019? Here’s Some Presentation Inspiration

The speaker selection team for the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo has released a wish list of topics they'd like to see presented during 2019’s event in Las Vegas.
By: | February 4, 2019 • 5 min read

The team that selects speakers for the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo announced some topics they would like to see presented during 2019’s event in Las Vegas.


Workers’ compensation and non-occupational disability management professionals wanting to speak during the 28th Annual NWCDC might review the ideas generated by the team to see whether those topics match your area of expertise. If so, consider submitting a request for proposal describing your related presentation concept.

But NWCDC’s speaker decision process is not limited to choosing only from among topics the selection team generated. Potential speakers are encouraged to apply their own creativity and expert knowledge to submit additional presentation ideas. The selection group understands that there are many great ideas beyond its own.

February 22 is the deadline for submitting RFPs. The event will be held November 6 through 8, 2019 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. You can submit your ideas via this NWCDC web page.

Submitting multiple RFPs is acceptable. Doing so increases your chances of being selected to present and can help distinguish your proposals when NWCDC receives multiple RFPs containing the same general topic idea. For instance, we can only select a limited number of presentations discussing pharmacy management.

So if you desire to speak on pharmacy management, for example, you might submit an RFP on that topic in addition to RFPs on other workers’ comp and non-occupational disability management subjects.

Presentation proposals can focus on new, innovative strategies that reduce injuries and costs. But risk managers, workers’ comp managers, and disability managers are also welcome, for example, to share their experiences with implementing tried-and-true practices at their companies.

In choosing topics and speakers the selection committee prefers presenters offering practical solutions that help workers’ comp and disability claims payers and managers resolve difficult and commonly-faced challenges. While we place emphasis on presentations with practical solutions, there is also room for discussions that enlighten on current trends impacting workers’ comp and disability management.

NWCDC prioritizes proposals that include employers as a presenters. We have learned that our attendees prefer to hear case studies presented by employers that have adopted successful strategies rather than sales pitches offered by service providers.


We also understand, however, that not all presentations can include an employer speaker and we value the knowledge and information that other workers’ comp professionals serving the payer community bring to the conference.

Presentation proposals can focus on new, innovative strategies that reduce injuries and costs. But risk managers, workers’ comp managers, and disability managers are also welcome, for example, to share their experiences with implementing tried-and-true practices at their companies.

This year’s NWCDC selection committee includes Denise Algire, director managed care corporate risk at Albertsons Companies; John Smolk principal manager, workers’ compensation and disability management, Southern California Edison; Dan Reynolds, editor-in-chief at Risk & Insurance; and Roberto Ceniceros, NWCDC chair.

Potential presentation topic proposals that NWCDC’s speaker selection committee is eager to evaluate and select from include:

  • How do you know your workers’ comp program is working well and how do you measure its success? This could be a great session for a couple of employers and a consultant.
  • Americans With Disabilities Act information and strategies from a disability management and program operations perspective. Not from an attorney’s legalese perspective.
  • ADA, FMLA and work comp intersections. Recognizing when employees are asking for accommodations.
  • The latest on post offer employment testing and EEOC challenges.
  • Claims examiner education. Developing a strategic mindset for medical causation and the mechanism of injury. Best practices for medical causation. The ideal presenter for this session may be medical professionals or a veteran claims administrator.
  • MSA strategies for satisfying CMS. This should not be an MSA 101-class, but the updating of current information with strategies to mitigate MSA burdens.
  • Best practices in clinical care for one or two of work comp’s most common injuries. This session should help claims payers understand when aggressive or passive treatment strategies are best and help employers develop better claims-handling instructions.
  • Leveraging medical care centers of excellence to improve injured worker outcomes. This session should include an employer that has used a center of excellence to improve their claims experience.
  • Connecting pre-loss and post-loss data. Provide the example of an employer successfully improving work comp outcomes by connecting safety data to claims management.
  • Analytic tools for improving-litigation management outcomes.
  • The latest on wearables and safety.
  • Obtaining optimal outcomes with prescriptive analytics developed to meet workers’ comp challenges, such as those presented by medical management.
  • How to bring electronic medical records into claims management.
  • Management strategies for breaking down corporate silos to connect workers’ comp and safety.
  • What do employers need to consider when improving their medical-marijuana policies.
  • Total worker health and leveraging wellness. We would like an employer with a proven program to present on this.
  • How to leverage the company’s employee assistance program and other services existing outside of workers’ comp.
  • Current trends in the litigation of cumulative trauma and apportionment.
  • Program management for aging bodies and how do you move aging workers away from physical roles into advisory roles or less physical duties.
  • Talent hiring and retention strategy. How do you apply workers’ comp and disability program claims management and customer service practices to retain both injured workers and claims management staff.
  • Workplace violence -perhaps training employees to be proactive and anticipate problems. Consider employers other than retailers such as companies that hire drivers. Being aware of surroundings. On security, to arm or not arm.
  • How do you work with your TPA and other vendors? How can an employer put their internal team together, hire and train, to properly manage and interact with the TPAs and other service providers. How do you build that team for the best collaboration?
  • When is the claims investigation worth the cost and effort? When is it the best and proper use of resources and when is it overutilization? Are you needlessly dogmatic about the need for investigating claims?
  • How do claims staff grow to become great program managers?
  • How do you help employees suffering from PTSD after witnessing a catastrophic accident or experiencing workplace violence?
  • Disaster recovery and the potential threats employers need to concern themselves with. This is not a documents recovery topic but an alert on the potential breaches, catastrophes and threats.
  • New interventions, treatments and advanced medical solutions for traditional workers’ comp injuries.
  • Workers’ comp service consolidation and M&A deals, what is the price employers are paying for these? Is the consolidation making the market more competitive or increasing pricing? What’s it doing for service levels?
  • How do you leverage or build medical provider networks for better claims outcomes and better future MSA results?
  • How do you leverage subrogation tactics for the best results?
  • Case study examples of unions and employers working together to build successful workers’ comp programs. What strategies did the employer pursue? This session would require representatives from both sides.
  • Return to work from an employers’-implementation perspective.Also, what are the doctor’s and insurer’s roles? Whose job description do you believe the employee or employer? What to do if the employer does not have a functional description for the injured worker’s tasks or if that description is not up to date.

The speaker proposal application can be found here.

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.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]