2016 NWCDC

Workers’ Compensation Conference Program Released

NWCDC's presentations offer leading-edge strategies from employers and other experts to mitigate workers' comp and disability challenges.
By: | August 15, 2016 • 3 min read

Savvy employers have increasingly adopted injured-worker advocacy and engagement strategies to help employees overcome fears and challenges encountered when navigating workers’ compensation systems.

William Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health, International Paper

William Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health, International Paper

“The workers’ compensation claim process can be confusing and intimidating,” said William Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health at International Paper.

“For the injured employee there are a lot of unknowns. An advocate helps alleviate the fears and guides them through all the issues.”

Wainscott will speak on an employer panel discussing injured-employee advocacy and engagement programs at the 25th Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Conference® & Expo scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in New Orleans.

Minimizing a workplace injury’s impact on employees, their families and employers requires helping the injured worker access the right resources and understand their role in the recovery and return-to-work process, he said.

Wainscott is an NWCDC program co-chair and helped develop the conference’s 2016 agenda.

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The agenda highlights other planned presentations featuring employers discussing leading-edge strategies for mitigating workers’ comp and disability challenges.

“We have put together a really strong agenda with topics that are meaningful for employers and other payer groups like insurance companies and third-party administrators,” said Denise Algire, who is also an NWCDC program co-chair and director of managed care and disability corporate risk at Albertsons Cos.

Addressing mental health factors impacting the recovery of workers’ comp and disability claimants is another focus of conference sessions developed to help meet growing employer and claims payer interest in the topic.

“Mental illness affects both workers’ comp and non-occupational disability,” Algire said.

Historically, there has been tremendous stigma around the topic, but more employers now understand that mental health issues impact absenteeism and productivity.

“There is more emphasis on this as organizations realize that the No. 1 reason for short-term disability claims is either depression or some other mental illness,” Algire added.

“So talking about it and understanding what solutions and options are available for employees, and how to implement those programs within your organization is an important conversation.”

Algire will also speak as part of the NWCDC panel discussing injured-employee advocacy programs.

In addition to Algire and Wainscott, the panel will include Kimberly George, senior VP and senior healthcare advisor at Sedgwick Claims Management Services, and Scott Daniels, director of disability at Comcast.

Daniels will also speak as part of another panel titled “Mental Matters: How Mental Health Impacts Productivity and Performance.”

That is not the only conference presentation on mental health issues.

Tim East, director of risk management, The Walt Disney Company

Tim East, director of risk management, The Walt Disney Company

Donna Morrison, corporate healthcare director at UPS, will join Michael Lacroix, associate medical director of behavioral health at Aetna Life Insurance and Coventry Workers’ Comp Services, to deliver a presentation titled “Advances in Behavioral Health Disability Claims Management Strategies.”

In total, the conference features 31 breakout sessions, two general sessions, and a keynote address delivered by Tim East, director of corporate risk management at The Walt Disney Co.

During his presentation titled “Fueling Injury Recovery with Engaged Workers,” East will discuss how technology trends impact workers’ expectations for how employers engage them.

Worker engagement and solutions for mental health’s impact on claim duration are not the only topics awaiting NWCDC attendees.

Other sessions will offer strategies to address opioid prescribing, Medicare set-aside requirements, Americans with Disabilities Act mandates, and insurance arrangements.

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The conference will also present several case studies including:

  • A look at the multidisciplinary approach applied by manufacturer Mohawk Industries to launch a health and safety program.
  • The strategies Columbus Consolidated Government employed to develop an award-winning return-to-work program.
  • How American Airlines fostered a claims-closure culture to resolve complex legacy claims.

Those are only a few of the topics employers and service providers will present at this year’s conference, recognized as  the workers’ comp industry’s must-attend event of the year.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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.

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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.

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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]