6 Ways to Avoid Ransomware

Imagine walking into your office, turning on your computer, and seeing nothing but a message demanding bitcoins in return for unlocking all your company’s files. The nightmare known as ‘Ransomware’ recently became all too real for more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, bringing some hospitals and other organizations to a halt. While those affected were primarily outside the U.S., experts say the perpetrators are ramping up their efforts and they warn all businesses to take steps to prepare.

 

The information typically available within the workers’ compensation system — social security numbers, personal health information, etc., — makes it a must for the industry to take notice of the situation. The good news is there are ways to shield and prevent such attacks from infiltrating your company.

 

 

What Is Ransomware

 

Ransomware takes the idea of hacking to a whole new level. Those spearheading the efforts are not necessarily interested in stealing your data, they really just want to hold it hostage until you pay up — hence the term.

 

Businesses large and small may be equally at risk. In fact, small businesses may be even more at risk than larger ones because of their often more relaxed attitude about cyber security.

 

Ransomware is sophisticated malware that blocks access to a computer by encrypting the data or system until it is unlocked. ‘WannaCry,’ the malware used in the recent incident, is not the only ransomware out there and, in fact, there are even copycat versions of WannaCry now available on the black market.

 

The wrongdoers look for the easiest way to infect a system or network and use it as a means to spread the malicious content. Often, it is through an unwitting employee. Phishing is one of the main ways of accessing a computer, where someone sends emails that that appear to be from legit companies, but are not.

 

Another method is for someone to send a fraudulent email that appears to come from a high-ranking company official seeking sensitive information or money transfers. Lost devices, such as laptops, phones and physical files are another way to break in to a company’s network.

 

 

Ransomware Preventive Measures

 

  • Back it up – twice. An external hard drive should be used for backing up all your files and data; then it should be disconnected from the computer. The cloud may be used for a second backup, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. However, the cloud application should not be turned on except once per day to sync the data. Another backup source can be an ‘air gapped’ computer or server, that is secure and isolated from other networks.

 

  • Train employees. Unfortunately, unwitting employees may be the most vulnerable part of your cyber security. It’s imperative they understand and are kept up to date on what and how cyber-attacks and ransomware occur and how to prevent them. You can then periodically test employees with mock phishing emails. The training should be ongoing and should include the following:

 

– Review emails closely to make sure they are from a trusted and known sender before links or attachments are opened.

– Never download attachments from spam or suspicious emails.

– Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) training to highlight the risks in downloading suspicious apps on them. On smartphones, only official materials should be downloaded.

– Don’t store important data on the PC, if possible.

 

  • Update software. Computers and software that are outdated are more likely to crash and face cyberattacks. Security updates for Microsoft and other operating systems should be applied immediately, including any patches released to combat WannaCry or malware. Antivirus and anti-spam filters should also be kept current.

 

  • Implement/update security policies. Passwords should be strong; meaning they should contain upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols; and they should be changed at least every 90 days. A companywide password policy should be strictly enforced. Computer browsers’ security and privacy settings should be adjusted for better protection. Outdated plugins and add-ons should be removed from the browser. An ad blocker should be used to prevent potentially malicious ads.

 

  • Check your policy. If your company does not have a cyber policy, explore the idea of getting one. These typically cover the cost of notifying those whose data has been affected, and even hiring a public relations firm to combat reputational damage. If you have a policy it’s vital to inform the insurer if and when a breach occurs. Other policies that may include coverage are kidnap and ransom, or property policies. In the event of a breach these may help pay for legal costs, data restoration, business interruption and the ransom, if paid.

 

  • Incident response plan. Your company should consider forming an action plan that would kick into effect in the event of a security breach, to help limit costs and damages. It should guide personnel at all levels to help manage the breach. Once implemented, you can run simulated attacks to test your company’s level of preparedness.

 

 

Author 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.

Workers’ Comp Should Embrace Wearable Technology with Caution

They come in all types of gadgets. Wristbands. Watches. Eye glasses. They can be woven into your clothes. Or embedded in your jewelry. Or implanted in personal protective equipment.

 

These ‘wearables’ are small, electronic wireless devices capable of communicating with other devices and people. They allow for data collection and analysis in real time, and are increasingly being used to prevent injuries, aid recovery and expedite claim processing.

 

While wearables hold great promise for the workers’ compensation industry, they are also largely unproven, unregulated and possibly, unsafe. Employers can reap tremendous benefits from this emerging technology — if they understand the risks and how to mitigate them.

 

 

What They Are

 

Wearables are not new. There was the calculator watch of the 1980s, and before that, the hearing aid was a form of wearable technology. Things changed in the early 2000s with the introduction of the HugShirt. With its Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to send hugs via smart devices, Time Magazine named it one of 2006’s Best Inventions of the Year.

 

Since then, wearables have spread to many other applications. Consumers use wearable wristbands to monitor everything from their caloric intake and steps per day, to their sleeping patterns. The medical profession has embraced the technology to monitor patients by tracking their heart rates, physical activity, and blood glucose levels.

 

In our industry wearables are used to detect concussions in workers wearing hard hats, and monitor fatigue among employees wearing special wristbands. They are also used post injury to track the injured worker’s recovery and improve a catastrophically injured worker’s quality of life, such as the Exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to walk.

 

The data produced by wearables can help better coordinate and manage medical care and, ultimately help the worker and employer. However, much of the data being transferred is private and/or sensitive. Companies need to consider the unintended consequences involved.

 

 

The Risks

 

Individuals and companies can be harmed by the use of wearables in a number of ways.

 

  • Distractions. ‘Smart’ glasses can capture real-time facial images and videos, and search and post data on that person. But workers wearing them can be easily distracted, potentially resulting in accidents when driving or even walking.
  • While wearable wristbands are still all the rage, some users have developed allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Corporate security. Among the biggest concerns about wearables is the potential for a company’s proprietary information to get into the wrong hands. The devices can record private conversations, take pictures and share information online. Because they can be connected to smartphones, data can be constantly transferred wirelessly. The wearables can also be plugged into a computer via a USB port and introduce viruses into the company’s system. Also, the device could be used to download sensitive information. Currently, these devices often require no PIN or password, making it easy for someone to access its data.
  • The potential unauthorized access to employees’ medical and other personal information can be devastating for companies and workers alike.
  • Hacking. Employees with wearables may unknowingly have their devices hacked or controlled remotely.

 

 

Protections

 

Despite the risks, the use of wearables is expanding and shows no signs of slowing down. But there are strategies you can take to protect your workers and your company from the risks of this newer technology.

 

  • Vet the vendor. Before purchasing wearables, look carefully at the companies that supply them. Understand what needs you are trying to address and which devices will be most appropriate. Then look for a vendor that is aligned with your goals.
  • Seek buy-in. Money spent on wearables will be wasted if your employees don’t wear them. Work with your employees as you go through the process of determining which, if any wearables you want. Make sure they understand you won’t use sensitive data in any way that could harm them.
  • Establish policies. If your company has a policy for employee-owned mobile devices, include wearables in it. There should be rules for these bring-your-own-devices, or BYODs. If the policy is not broad enough, change the wording to ensure wearables are included. You should define the acceptable use of wearables and ensure employees understand and pledge to abide by the policy.
  • Monitor your networks. It’s important to continually identify when information is being sent over your company’s network and by what device. If an event does happen and you need to take down part of the network to repair it, you should have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place that allows the company to resume normal functioning.
  • Check your policy limits. Does your insurance policy cover the risk associated with wearables? You may want to take a closer look and ensure it does.
  • Educate wearers. You want to make sure your employees use the devices properly and understand the risks involved to themselves and the company, and how to reduce them. Your insurer or TPA may have an expert available to speak with your workforce. If not, check local resources, such as the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Protect sensitive areas. If certain areas of your company have highly sensitive information, you may want to disable Bluetooth in them to reduce the chance of a data leak.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Wearables are the latest ‘disruption’ to the workers’ compensation industry. They can give you a competitive advantage if used appropriately and with the right precautions in place.

 

 

Author 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/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©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.

Three Common Mistakes In Enterprise Risk Management

Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) gives a holistic view of all risk across the enterprise and allows for timely decisions based on apples to apples comparisons. It requires process owners to think like owners and to provide timely and accurate reporting. It transitions what is most important into actionable plans that are supported by a consistent process for controls and monitoring. A company seeking to improve workers’ compensation management may be considering ERM improvements, and vice-versa.

 

Companies who engage in ERM have a strong competitive advantage. It gives all stakeholders the confidence that the management team is applying a structured approach to identifying, assessing and managing the company’s most important risk. It makes a clear statement to the value of appropriate allocation of resources  and efficiency in governance.

 

With the clear value ERM brings, why are so many companies missing the opportunity? Why do they recognize the value but struggle to get their programs up and running? Our research and experience shows:

 

1              They make it more complex than it needs to be

2              They spend too much time prepping and not enough time doing

3              They miss opportunities when it comes to technology

 

We recommend simplifying foundational concepts, streamlining the process into immediate action and using technology to get your program off the ground.

 

 

Make it Simple

 

Most have heard the terms and concepts of ERM, but do not have the time to get their arms around them. To successfully get off the ground and make progress, the first step needs to be — MAKE IT SIMPLE. Not just initially but for the long haul. Peers at an executive level need to be able to be on the same page and the message to process owners needs to be clear. If it is not simple and clear you will waste count- less hours with no real value.

 

A best practice ERM framework simply means your company has an efficient and effective way to collect risk across the enterprise, a way to quantify risk across business silos and a way to put what is most important into action.

 

If your employees are not aware you have an ERM initiative, you don’t have one. Foundational to the process is identifying what the team looks like that makes up your 3 lines of defense; defining roles, clearly/concisely communicating the core concepts and engaging stakeholders to be part of the process.

 

Moving forward, we recommend finding simple and efficient ways to capture the team’s perspective on risk. Keep the questions straightforward and use technology to gather data in a way that is easy for them. Use simple questions like, what could hinder their success in reaching objectives, what risk they have encountered over the last year, what they heard or observed from others and what is happening externally—in industry, among competitors, regulators, etc.?

 

The next step of the equation is putting time into dealing with governance obstacles. Things start to slow down when “simple” is not applied to the long haul. Look for opportunities to identify obstacles and apply efficiency.

 

 

Just Get Started

 

As companies are attempting to get their ERM programs up and running, they mistakenly think it must be perfectly mapped out before steps can be taken. This, unfortunately, pro- motes the idea of long drawn out committees with no value being realized for upwards of 2 years down the road.

 

Take steps that build long term success, while in tandem, build in steps to capture immediate value. Many companies take too long to capture their top risk and even longer to translate it into action. While the framework is taking shape and you’re capturing and organizing your top risk, jump ahead of the process, and put key risk you know will likely end up as a top 10 cate- gory into an ERM Plan. This will be time well spent to pilot a repeatable process to consistently assess, mitigate and monitor risk that will be transferable to other risk plans.

 

 

Begin with Technology

 

Unfortunately, some companies get started on an ERM initiative and end up putting their efforts on the shelf. This is a natural outcome of not simplifying and getting started (streamlining the process). Avoid wasted time and efforts by using technology early.

 

Many companies mistakenly think ERM technology comes into play after a mature program is in place. They do not take advantage of tools that can streamline the educational process, allow for efficient platforms to collect data, transition risk into structured plans and transition obstacles into governance efficiency.

 

 

ERM Checklist

 

  • Do staff/process owners know you are focusing on ERM and are they engaged? 
  • Is there consistent and effective reporting on risks and controls?
  • Are you putting efforts into keeping it simple
  • Can cross-silo’d decisions be made from your assessment scale?
  • Do you have an easy way to capture risk?
  • Is there structured focus on governance efficiency?
  • Are your most important risks getting transitioned into action?

 

 

Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact: m.bennett@riskinnovationgroup.com

Do High Heels Mean A Compensable Workers’ Comp Claim?

Navigating issues of compensability in workers’ compensation has become a complicated task for members of the claims management team and interested stakeholders.  This is highlighted by developing case law that scrutinizes the facts surrounding work-injuries when they occur at special events, company meetings or special occasions outside the employee’s usual work functions.  It also stresses the importance of a careful investigation of the facts and elements connected to the work-injury

 

 

Dykoff:  An All Too Common Scenario

 

The facts of Dykhoff v. Xcel Energy, 840 N.W.2d 821, 73 W.C.D. 865 (Minn. 2013), read like a law school hypothetical or test question meant to challenge students.  The employee in this case was a middle-aged journeyman electrician, whose job duties included electronically monitoring power and transmission lines.  Her work duties were performed at a desk, where she usually wore jeans and other casual clothes to work.  Presumably, this did not include high heels.

 

On the date of injury, Ms. Dykhoff was instructed to attend a training session.  Employees attending this event were advised to wear “dress clothes.”  While attending the event, the employee wore two-inch high heels.  She suffered a knee injury while walking on a dry floor.  A post-injury investigation noted there was no debris on the floor.

 

The case was found not compensable after initial hearing.  These conclusions were reversed at the first level of appeal.  Ultimately, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the hearing judge’s determination of non-compensability after a close evaluation of the facts and application of developing case law.  Central to the Court’s conclusions were three common tests used in many workers’ compensation cases when the law and careful review of the facts drive issues of compensability:

 

  • Increased Risk Test: The employee must show that she is exposed to a greater risk than the general public;

 

  • The Positional Risk Test: The employee need only show that her employer placed her in the position where she was injured; and

 

  • The Work-Connection Balancing Test: Where the arising out of/course of elements are evaluated.

 

In reversing the lower court decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court noted, “the employment creates a special hazard from which injury comes, then, within the meaning of the statute, there is that ‘causal relation’ between employment and the injury.”

 

 

Lessons Learned and Application

 

There is obviously no way an employer or other stakeholders can prevent a claim from being filed in instances like those described above.  On the other hand, there are important take-aways anyone can implement to avoid adverse findings and increased workers’ compensation program costs:

 

  • Maintaining a safe and properly functioning workplace environment is the surest way to prevent injuries. This includes making sure all walking surfaces are clear of debris and spills are immediately cleaned up in a proper manner.  All employees within an organization should receive annual safety training and understand the importance of their role in the process.

 

  • Setting proper expectations of employees when they attend meetings or other special functions during customary work hours or outside the normal workday. It is unclear what role the employee’s healed footwear played in the minds of judges when considering the Dykhoff  Notwithstanding its significance or lack thereof, it is something important to employers and other stakeholders to consider when holding workplace meetings where the posted attire exceeds those set during normal business hours.  This includes footwear.

 

  • A careful and complete investigation of all work injuries after they occur is important. Due to the interest in workplace “risk” by the Minnesota Supreme Court and other judicial bodies, it is important to note an uneven walking surface, a missing floor tile or floor mat can result in paying for someone’s medical bills and wage loss benefits under a workers’ compensation program.

 

Conclusions

 

Members of the claims management team and other interested stakeholders should take note of ways to keep their workers’ compensation costs in check.  Part of this includes an analysis of employee expectations and an awareness to dangers that lurk around the corner.  This includes an awareness to workplace safety and demands on employees.

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©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.

 

Business Map to Workers Comp In Enterprise Risk Management

Once a company is successfully able to implement the foundation of their Enterprise Risk Management program, the attention soon shifts to having an effective map that allows important connections to be made.

 

Almost all companies have organizational charts. Most companies, however, do not have a holistic view that outlines business processes, relationships and resources and how it all fits together. In short, a map that uses technology to support meeting organizational objectives.

 

Maps give options and technology provides insight that allows getting places quicker and more efficiently. As you are leaving work on a Friday at 5 PM it is certainly helpful to know what alternative routes are available. When your GPS takes you a different route because it can identify bottlenecks due to an accident, it just gave you another advantage.

 

Organizations are complex. They involve things like business processes, resources, people, policies, relationships, physical assets, applications and data repositories in the midst of dealing with risk, performance and readiness issues. When these things are captured and aligned in business silos it makes your commute (business objective) from point A to B even more challenging.

 

Business maps, unlike organizational charts, take into consideration the complete picture with a purpose, by design, to efficiently get you somewhere.

 

 

Making the Connections

 

No one knows everything in your organization. There is too much happening and it is constantly changing. To make good decisions, the goal is to find the critical paths, priority and resources that need to be involved.

 

Start by organizing by resource rather than by use or department. Once the resources are organized and defined, it makes it much easier to establish important relationships. For example, if your resources are defined and you use your business map to draw the lines/make connections between a “risk” that affects 3 different business processes in your organization and turn the solution into a collaborative vs. silo’d effort, you made progress.

 

Forward thinking companies take advantage of technology that allows important connections to be made.

 

 

A Natural Starting Point

 

As noted by Michael Stack, a principle at AMAXX, workers’ compensation takes a village. When you have and need a village working together, a map is essential. In this very specialized business process area, you are traveling through some very complex neighborhoods and any wrong turn can be costly.

 

Wrong turns such as poor communication and delayed actions translate into missed opportunities.

 

How the processes, relationships and resources tie together in workers’ compensation is a system/map that works best when it is defined in a way that is transparent to the team involved.

 

When a holistic picture is concisely captured and communicated, it makes it much easier for stakeholders to contribute, provide support and make connections that translates into continuous improvement of your program.

 

Capturing the collaborative efforts of a village takes a clear map in the workers’ compensation space. For companies who have not made the leap to Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), this area becomes a perfect landing spot.

 

Applying ERM concepts to workers’ compensation programs allows organizations to demonstrate success and milestones that are transferable and build momentum to a broader ERM initiative.

 

 

Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact: m.bennett@riskinnovationgroup.com

WCRI Preview: Impact of Trump, Congress, & Legislature on Workers Comp

 

Donald Trump, the House, the Senate, 68 out of 99 State Legislative Chambers, and the highest number of Governors since 1922. I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx, and what I’m referring to is the amount of political control for the Republican Party as the result of the 2016 election.

 

Now if you’re a Democrat, and frankly even if you’re a Republican to some degree and even if you voted for Donald Trump, there is a little bit of fear, even if it’s for you it’s just a tiny bit, of how that change is going to impact our country and if you’re in the workers’ comp industry, how that change is specifically going to impact us in our industry, and the answer to that is frankly, I’m not really 100% sure. It’s not my area of expertise but I’m looking forward to learning about it at the upcoming WCRI Conference, which is going to be held March 2nd and 3rd in Boston.

 

 

Impact of the 2016 Election

 

The first session is the Impact of the 2016 Election on the Work Comp industry. I will be there in attendance and I will be taking a lot of notes because it’s something that I want to learn about and add to my toolbox and my bag of resources. Now, the second session at that conference is called Worker Outcomes and Return to Work. This topic is right in my wheelhouse. I get questions a lot of times from people. They’ll send me and e-mail and say, “Hey, Mike, do you have a study? Anything that I can reference about X, Y, Z topic?”

 

 

Worker Outcomes and Return to Work

 

Depending on the topic, sometimes I’ll have a study that I can reference and sometimes I won’t, but WCRI is one of my favorite resources and one of my often, most often quoted resources for studies and this is one I am sure I will be quoting often because they’re going to be taking a look at Return to Work and Worker Outcomes from the employee perspective, the employer perspective, medical providers, insurers of how different things really impact the outcome of those particular individuals in those claims, so that’s a session I’m very much looking forward to.

 

 

Opioids, Value Based Health Care, & The Grand Bargain

 

The rest of the agenda is going to be hitting some very important and timely topics like opioids, does value-based healthcare work in work comp and really an appraisal of the entire work comp system and if the grand bargain is still the right answer, so WCRI is one of my most highly respected organizations. I love that conference. It’s one of my favorite to attend all year. It also happens to be a local conference for me, which is great. I’m Kennebunkport, Maine so a short drive down to Boston. I’m looking forward to being in attendance and I hope that you will too and I look forward to seeing you there.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©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.

3 Workers’ Comp Macro Influences In 2017

Many serious discussions took place during 2016 that required claims management teams to examine their impact on workers’ compensation costs.  While these discussions may be in the past, the New Year signals an opportunity to continue the conversation and make progress in managing risk and costs within every program.

 

 

Affordable Care Act

 

The change in presidential administrations will certainly bring changes to healthcare in the United States.  Over the last several years, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought changes to all workers’ compensation programs.  These changes had an impact in the following areas:

 

  • Cost shifting under the ACA: The individual mandate impacted workers’ compensation in that there were now more people insured under private insurance plans. This change put more pressure on medical providers to increase fee schedule reimbursement rates to offset costs associated with marketplace subsidies (Medicaid and Medicare patients). Doctor availability, or the lack thereof, also drove conversations on treatment of work-related injuries.

 

  • Claim shifting under the ACA: Changes were also felt in this area. Various mandates under the ACA has an effect on the way parties view workers’ compensation medical benefits—the decrease in uninsured rates across the country removed one stigma of workers’ compensation and its perceived role among many as being “medical insurance” for the uninsured.

 

  • Solvency of government healthcare such as Medicare. Medicare Secondary Payer compliance will continue to remain a hot button issue even though the ACA did not directly change this program.

 

Any changes to the ACA will influence claims frequency in workers’ compensation.  Proactive stakeholders should be engaged on this issue and ready to respond.

 

 

Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse

 

The overuse and abuse of various prescription drugs continues to be a driver in workers’ compensation program costs.  Congress and state lawmakers have been mainly reactive to this problem and failed to work in a proactive manner.  While states are implementing guidelines for the proper use of painkillers in workers’ compensation programs, members of the claims management teams and attorneys need to address this issue in their claims.

 

  • Monitor prescription drugs in claims files and implement drug utilization review when allowed;

 

  • Recommend prescription drug “contracts” with doctors, injured parties and other stakeholders when concerns about overuse/abuse are raised; and

 

  • Engage treating physicians about legitimate concerns of overuse/abuse, if permitted.

 

 

The American Workforce

 

Over the last few decades, manufacturing inside the United States has been in steady decline.  This forced the labor market to transform itself into a service-based economy.  Change could be on the horizon with major manufacturing becoming more interested in producing products at home.  If so, this will give rise to a change in how workers’ compensation programs manage risk and improve their programs.

 

In the meantime, successful and cost-effective workers’ compensation programs will continue to deal with the following issues:

 

  • The aging workforce in the United States;

 

  • A mobile workforce that performs job functions from remote or via telecommuting; and

 

  • Ongoing issues and concerns with matters such as violence, street drugs in the workplace, or injured workers’ using “medical marijuana.”

 

 

Conclusions

 

Regardless of how things do change, now is the time for all interested stakeholders to re-evaluate their workers’ compensation programs.  A special emphasis on this review should include:

 

  • Proper workplace safety and training that is consistent. Getting buy-in from upper management and union leaders is key;

 

  • Being prepared for emergencies. This include all work-injury and unexpected disasters.  This should include severe weather and man-made incidents;

 

  • Re-commitment by yourself and team to driving efficiencies in your workers’ compensation program. Everything needs to be on the table when it comes to this evaluation; and

 

  • Staying connected to injured employees and seeking opportunities to return them to work. This not only includes within the same organization, but also with other non-profit partners who employ persons of all abilities.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.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.

 

Piece Workers’ Comp Into the Enterprise Risk Puzzle

The term risk takes on a new meaning to forward thinking organizations. As noted by a leading Enterprise Risk Management software provider, Logic Manager, it is a Risk Based Approach to Business.

 

Risk is the overarching theme across all business areas. It resides in operations, shared services such as IT, HR, finance and other dimensions including, compliance, geographic regions and strategic initiatives to name a few. In addition to these risks, executives also face the risk of governance efficiency, things such as silo’d activity, scattered information, misalignment of priorities and unknown relationships that have a direct effect on the bottom line.

 

As companies get larger the challenges are real and there are many pieces to the puzzle. In fact, it appears so complex that some companies never make it to the point they start pulling the most important pieces together. Like a deer in the headlight they stand motionless doing what has always been done and can’t get started making valuable connections that have a bottom line impact.

 

 

Putting the Puzzle Together

 

How do you get started? In short you count the pieces, do the edges and look for the connections.

 

Count the Pieces

 

Did you ever do the hard work on a puzzle only to find that many of the pieces were missing. The starting point is pretty straight forward. Identify the pieces you are dealing with. In most organizations the pieces are known but not clearly defined.

 

 

Do the Edges

 

Start with the low hanging fruit. In a complex puzzle you go straight to the edges. It takes an overwhelming amount of pieces down to something you can manage. Once it gets started, there is still hard work but it makes it easier to pull together. Begin complex puzzles/ business initiatives in areas that can be used as a foundation to pilot and demonstrate repeatable processes.

 

 

Look for the Connections

 

As you are shifting through the many remaining pieces, the colors and shapes become very important. Build your foundations on taxonomy (systematic classification) that can help identify and take advantage of natural connections that do not normally get made.

 

Organizations may have the best people, resources and intentions to move initiatives forward, but if they can’t find a logical starting point, it all breaks down and the status quo never turns into a completed puzzle. A risk based approach to business should not take longer than 6 months to get off the ground. In fact, if the puzzle is mapped out correctly, significant value can be demonstrated in 90 days.

 

 

Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact: m.bennett@riskinnovationgroup.com

The Enterprise Risk Management Plan

risk-innovationCollecting and prioritizing risk data is only valuable if your organization has a way to transition this knowledge into action. Many companies struggle to go to the next step of making their Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) programs actionable.

 

ERM drives your biggest risk into plans, ones that align with and support your strategic goals. Plans are assigned an owner and provided a repeatable process that insures root cause risks that make up the plan have controls, the controls have owners and the activities that support controls are clear so they can be effectively implemented and monitored.

 

Monitoring of controls, effective reporting on progress and establishing relationships that allow for efficiencies among plans and other important business processes are what drives action.

 

 

Business Continuity & Continuous Improvement

 

Some ERM plans have a limited scope for a specific purpose and others are on-going. On-going plans address an important aspect of your business that requires continuous focus. These on-going plans are the organizations opportunity for business continuity and continuous improvement.

 

ERM plans provide formal documentation on what is currently happening; who owns the activity that is taking place and supporting details on the activities. The objective is to not lose any momentum during times of disruption.

 

Continuous improvement works best when everyone is in the know and able to contribute. Formalized ERM plans give both the birds-eye view and details for all stakeholders involved to enable them to effectively review and provide their perspective. Collective Risk Team input and participation is what drives collaborative efforts and best use of available resources.

 

 

Action is Everything

 

Two questions drive to the core of ERM – #1 What is the value of your organization and #2 What could kill that value. Foundational to ERM is a risk assessment process that identifies risk and missed opportunities that could kill the value.

 

There is no progress if the identified risks and opportunities do not transition into plans. The ERM Plan is the consistent and repeatable process to make what is most important, actionable.

 

  

Repeatable Process

 

Best practice plans force accountability and supports plan owners meeting their objectives. They include clear and concise descriptions on purpose, effective ranking displayed through heat maps and a summary of controls attached to each risk. They also include reasoning for the scoring that takes place, feedback on what could go wrong as well as details on what actions are required.

 

 

Apples to Apples

 

When organizations have multiple plans it can be challenging to determine which plan/which focus is most important at any given time.

 

Scoring on Impact, Likelihood and Assurance feed from each risk within each plan and aggregate up to both Inherent and Residual Indexes which allow for educated decisions on resources both among and within plans.

 

 

Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact: m.bennett@riskinnovationgroup.com

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 3

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 2

Top 5 Take Away Points 2016 National Work Comp & Disability Conf – Part 3

 

Hello, Michael Stack here with Amaxx. So I just got back from New Orleans, Louisiana… I want to talk to you about my top five take-away implementation points from the sessions that I attended. Continued from Part 2…

 

 

Take Away Point #4: Diagnostic Imaging Awareness

 

Point number four. This comes from Dr. Jacob Lazarovic and Stuart Colburn’s presentation on leveraging a medical expert to not get burned on causation. Dr. Lazarovic was talking about this stat of really reading these diagnostic images, and here’s the figures and here’s the really startling statistics when you’re looking at really reading and diagnosing from a MRI image, for example. 30% of the time, given the same image, given to two different doctors, those two different doctors are going to disagree on the diagnosis. 30% of the time, three out of 10 times, those two doctors are going to disagree on the diagnosis from reading that image.

 

 

Here’s the most telling and most interesting stat. Same doctor, given the same image, one week apart without any further identifying information, the doctor reads it one way on day one and reads it a different way on day seven. So the same doctor’s going to disagree with himself or herself 25% of the time and given to two different doctors they’re going to disagree with each other 30% of the time. The take-away point here is just this recognition that it’s not an absolute diagnosis when you get that from the doctor. Have a second opinion ready to go, have this understanding that just one diagnosis is not always the right diagnosis. Those are just bonus take-away from that session, that same session, Stuart Colburn made the point when talking about the selection of your doctor and the defense of your case, he has to question, “Are you selecting the doctor because of the opinion that him or her is going to give you? Or are you selecting a doctor to win the case?” Very important distinction, really, in the selection of those medical providers.

 

 

Take Away Point #5: Jumper Claims

 

Okay, last take-away point here is from Bill Zachry’s presentation. He was talking about jumper claims. Going back and sort of really relating to that same concept that Marcos Iglesias was talking about in his presentation with his bio-cycle social factors. Bill Zachry got into some more of these statistics of what this actually means in terms of cost. We see this as a national trend, but we’re talking specifically about Albertsons when he was the risk manager there. 3% of their claims represented 60% of those claims’ costs. 3% of their claims represented 60% of the claims’ costs. A very small percentage of claims representing a very large percentage of the costs.

 

 

We see this nationally that figure is 5% of claims representing 80% of the costs, but specifically for Albertsons this is how it worked and here were his numbers. He wanted to bring this down in half, cut this 3% in half, effect a very small percentage, 1 1/2% of those claims to bring down the costs in their program by 30%. So all these things that we’re talking about from these take-aways, these weekly meetings, having those medical provider relationships at the start, being able to bring in particularly in these weekly meetings, identifying some of those bio-cycle social factors early in the claim to bring in the resources necessary to influence the outcome of those claims.

 

 

Those were my five key take-away points. A lot of, of course, other information was discussed, but hopefully you’ll review your notes and you work towards implementing at least just one of these points to start to see a dramatic result in your program. Now if you’re watching this video somewhere other than reduceyourworkerscomp.com, go ahead and go to that website, sign up to receive a lot more free information on how to control and reduce your workers’ comp costs. To take it just one step further you can go to workerscompclub.com/livesstreamtraining to join me on my next livestream training. Again, I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx. Remember, your success in workers’ compensation is defined by your integrity, so be great.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

 

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