Wearable Technology In Workers’ Compensation

wearable technology in workers' compensationAdvances in technology and “gadget” trends are changing the American landscape and culture.  These fashionable and hip items can influence your workers’ compensation program.  This includes how interested stakeholders shape their programs, and provide other applications such as monitoring employee performance and returning them to work following an injury.  They can also assist employers and other interested parties with claims investigation and the detection of work injuries.  Now is the time for everyone with an interest in the process to take note.

 

 

What is wearable technology?

 

Simply put, “wearable” technology is something a person wears that provides real-time data on specific metrics.  Common examples of this include Fitbit® instruments that commonly come in the form of a bracelet.  The user wears it during the day and night to track specific fitness and health-related touchpoints such as:

 

  • Heart rate;
  • Movement, activity or step counter;
  • Calories burned during the day;
  • Restfulness of one’s sleep; and
  • Blood pressure and other medical-related readings.

 

Wearable technology comes in other forms.  Sensors and microchips can be implanted in watches, shoes and clothing to track similar performance metrics.  There is even talk of employers one day implanting sensors under an employee’s skin.

 

 

Applications for Monitoring Employee Performance and Safety

 

Due to the ease of using this technology and decreasing costs, employers are taking advantage of these advances to promote biometric analysis beyond health and wellness.  Examples of this automation include bionic suits and exoskeletons to bolster worker performance and strength.  Special helmets can increase safety and enhance employee performance.

 

There are also applications for reducing workers’ compensation program costs.  Examples of this include:

 

  • Real-time reporting of an employee’s location;
  • Immediate reporting of an employee in distress. This can include their precise location and allow for remote communication in summoning emergency assistance; and
  • Sensors that measure the force of impact that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of a workplace injury.

 

Wearable technology can also be utilized to assist even employees performing sedentary work.  Common problems in these positions is poor posture, which places unnecessary stress on one’s back, neck and upper extremities.  Wearable technology can be used to caution the employee of their posture and assist in making the necessary adjustments to a desk or workstation.

 

 

 

Other Uses in Workers’ Compensation

 

American labor is only seeing the beginning of how wearable technology can impact workers’ compensation.  Thought leaders within the industry are exploring how this technology can also be used to fit other aspects of the claims process to streamline the system and reduce program costs.  Potential future applications include:

 

  • Assisting the employee, treating physician and other interested stakeholders in post-injury care, progress and return-to-work issues;
  • Development of assistive devices that can return even those suffering the most severe spinal cord injuries to work in sedentary and medium-duty work; and
  • Uses in vocational rehabilitation and retraining efforts.

 

The potential for these devices are limitless.  Some critical barriers that need to be addressed include the privacy of an individual versus the needs and demands of employers and insurance carriers.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Millions of Americans use wearable technology every day.  Now is the time for interested stakeholders to familiarize themselves with these developments and trends.  Proactive leaders will examine and implement the use of these devices for practical applications to their workers’ compensation programs.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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