What Are Incoming Claims Professionals Looking For? CorVel’s Michael Combs May Have the Answer

By: | October 15, 2021

Michael Combs is the President and Chief Executive Officer for CorVel. He has been with CorVel for 30 years — he joined the company as a software engineer in 1991 and rose through the ranks as Vice President of Information Systems, deputy chief and Chief Information Officer, and President in 2017 before assuming the additional role of CEO in 2019. Prior to joining CorVel, Michael was a software engineer with Science Applications International Corp., where he developed software for the Naval Oceans System Center. Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from San Diego State University

This past year, millions of claims professionals retired, forcing companies to step up to attract the next generation.

In workers’ compensation, this seismic shift is particularly problematic because of the loss of intellectual capital as senior personnel depart, and the fact that this sector is seldom on the “first-choice career” list for younger employees.

We’ve also seen a wave of new technology in workers’ compensation as a result of COVID-19, including a significant move toward automation and the application of machine learning. The workforce is rapidly transforming in an unprecedented period of change as we push to attract the next generation workforce and move toward an increasingly automated claims process.

What we’re seeing is that claims professionals entering the industry are looking for the ideal blend in a workplace—they want intuitive interfaces, automation that streamlines the process, and a positive company culture that encourages a reasonable work/life balance.

Intuitive Technology

The next generation of claims professionals grew up using technology—it’s in their DNA. They know what effective technology looks like and how it should work. There’s a clear expectation that the company they work with should provide the tools they need to be successful.

To appeal to today’s claim professionals, technology must deliver:

  • Interactive app-style platforms
  • Clean, clear, intuitive interfaces
  • Critical information presented in a digestible way

I like to use the analogy of an unplanned community vs. a planned community.

With a planned community, the streets form neat squares and neighborhoods are designed and connected logically. In a “legacy” unplanned community, navigation can be difficult and frustrating, traffic is congested, and homes are intermixed with industrial buildings.

To avoid the roadblocks that inefficient platforms often cause, we need to plan ahead in our claims community by anticipating what adjusters need to do their jobs efficiently.

Today, there’s less tolerance for systems that aren’t elegant and well designed, or environments where technology is inefficient or onerous. New claims professionals don’t want to be bogged down with paperwork and repetitive tasks, and they don’t want to have to become experts in navigating a system to do their jobs effectively.

The platform should be sufficiently intuitive and user-friendly so a new adjuster can effectively manage claims very soon after being introduced to the system.

Streamlined Processes

In recent years, the workers’ compensation industry has become far more complex. New reporting requirements, state guidelines, legal and legislative compliance, and other regulations have dramatically increased the amount of information that needs to be understood and acted upon.

However, until recently, claims handling hadn’t changed much—maybe since the 1980s, when we began digitizing claim files. But the initial digitized systems modeled the paper files processes they replaced and thus did nothing to streamline workflow.

Modern systems are moving away from replicating historical processes and are reimagining what’s possible. Using machine learning, advanced analytics, and optimized workflows, innovative systems are utilizing historical data to track patterns to automatically identify and surface potential problems.

That being said, the goal of technology and automation is not to replace the claims professional. Human interaction is absolutely critical to the outcome of the claim.

But for routine day-to-day tasks that don’t require individualized expertise, automation is invaluable. By helping adjusters spend less time interacting with the system and more time interfacing with the injured worker, the employer and the case management team, overall outcomes are improving.

Connected Culture

While technology and automation are key to attracting the next generation of claims professionals, they can’t be separated from company culture. Younger employees put an incredibly high value on the workplace environment, culture and work/life balance. There’s little tolerance for an environment that is not responsive to employee needs.

When people have a reasonable workload and schedule, they’re more productive and engaged.

It’s also critical that companies focus on the employee/employer relationship. They need to offer an environment where people can learn and grow, have opportunities for advancement, and feel like they are an integral part of the solution and team.

The Perfect Recipe

Recruiting and retaining new employees will continue to be a challenge in our industry as senior staff move toward retirement. Easy-to-use platforms and intelligently automated processes not only boost efficiency but also ease stress and increase job satisfaction. Top it off with an employee-centric company culture with opportunity for advancement and you have a winning recipe.

The next generation of claims professionals is out there looking for this perfect combination and they are ready to deliver new, innovative solutions for our customers and their injured workers. &

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