Hey there, Michael Stack here, CEO of Amaxx. We’re about a month out from the conclusion of the National Work Comp and Disability conference held again this year in Las Vegas, back at Mandalay Bay. It’s a great accommodation and I think they have right city to host this great conference every year. Now, I attended more sessions than I normally do. I was very interested in many of the topics that were presented. The general theme of the conference itself was really focusing on much of what, frankly, I teach and believe in, which is really the outcomes for the injured workers that drive down workers’ compensation costs, creating a true win-win scenario. I want to talk to you about my top five takeaways from the sessions that I attended.
What Have You Done With the Content & Contacts From Conference?
Before I get into the takeaways though I do have a question for you, particularly, if you attended the conference. I want you to answer this question honestly. What have you done with the content that you learned or the contacts that you received within this past 30 days since the conclusion of the conference? Did you take notes from the sessions? Have you read them over? Have you created your own top five takeaway list? Have you looked through those business cards that you received? Have you followed up with those individuals? Do you even remember the conversations even happening of what you were supposed to do?
What I find more often than not is that we run around crazy at these conferences. There are a couple of days our feet are hurting, we’re exhausted, we’re going to events, we’re attending sessions, we’re trying to get meetings scheduled in between, but when we come back to the office, we just kind of drop the ball and forget we even attended at all. So if there’s things that are left outstanding, if there’s things that you haven’t covered over the past 30 days that you meant to, I encourage you to take a look at them and take action with the next one to two weeks so that you can get the most value from attending that conference in the time that you spent.
If you didn’t come up with your own top five takeaways to implement because maybe you didn’t take as many notes as you would have liked or attended as many sessions as you’ve liked, I encourage you to use mine. Borrow the ideas that I’m going to be presenting today and implement those into your program even if it’s just one idea because you’re going to realize a lot more value from the time that you spent at the conference itself. Okay, so that’s my question. If you didn’t attend the conference then I encourage you to just leverage the information that I’m going to be talking about today.
Take Away #1: Alliance of Woman in Workers’ Compensation
Let’s talk about takeaway number one, which comes from the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation Leadership Forum which was held the day before the official conference started. Now, the presentation was given by Margaret Spence. Margaret did a tremendous job at that presentation and at that leadership forum. To be frank, it had a fairly big impact on my own life in this past 30 days. Let’s talk about some of the things that she discussed and while this presentation was obviously directed towards women. Obviously, I’m not a woman, so I can’t fully appreciate and empathize with the experience of a professional woman in today’s environment or in the years past.
But I will tell you that the stories that she was describing, some of the challenges that women face, that she described both in the past and, currently, today in 2018 was a bit disheartening. It was a bit disheartening to hear that that still exists in our world, particularly, as I’m raising two young daughters. From my perspective, one of the underlying themes as it was given from the female perspective was to acknowledge and appreciate the struggles that women have come through and still face today, But having the courage and the confidence to break through it. One thing I’ll add from the male perspective and the perspective I think is very similar.
From the male perspective to appreciate and acknowledge the struggles that women have faced in the past and often continue to face today, but having the confidence and the courage to break through that, because while some of those prejudices may still exist in our world today, they should not exist in your world. If you take an honest and genuine look at yourself, and you see that those prejudices still exists in your world then you need to take the steps to correct it.
4 Questions to Take Charge of Your Own Destiny
So putting the issues of gender aside because I felt that Margaret’s message was very important for women, but it was also very important for men. It’s very important for African Americans, for Hispanics, for Mexicans, for Japanese, for Chinese, for Indians, for every race and creed. Her message was about having the confidence and the courage to take charge of your own destiny, regardless of the environment that you’re in. She walked us through an exercise which I’m going to relay to you now. I’ll tell you the answers that I came up with during that session, during that leadership forum, had a very important impact on my goal planning and business planning for my company, for 2018. Here’s a little exercise that Margaret walked us through. The first thing that she asked was what do you want. What do you want? She asked you to answer that question honestly and genuinely.
Second question to answer is why. Why do you want it? What do you want and why do you want it? Third question is what has held you back. What is holding you back from achieving this goal, from achieving this desired outcome? Number four is what do you fear. What do you want, why do you want it, what is holding you back, and what do you fear? If you can honestly answer those questions, it will help you develop that confidence, help you develop that vision, help you develop that courage to create this life that you both deserve and desire.
Take Away #2: Intersection of Medicine & Disability – A Doctors View
Let’s move on to takeaway number two. This comes from a presentation given by Dr. Marcos Iglesias, who’s the Chief Medical Officer at Broadspire.
The session was entitled The Intersection of Medicine and Disability, A Doctor’s View. Now, frankly, I felt that this was a strongest session and most valuable session that I attended at the National Work Comp and Disability conference. I could have taken probably all five of my top takeaways from this one session alone. Dr. Iglesias did give a very candid and simple explanation of the doctor’s viewpoint, of the clinical perspective. One of the things that we forget about so often in workers’ compensation is that every single claim is a medical injury. Every single claim needs some form of medical intervention to have that individual person recover to maximum medical improvement.
60-80% of Lost Work Days are Unnecessary
The better that we can understand that clinic perspective, that doctors perspective; the better that we can develop that working partnership is the better outcomes we’ll be able to provide for the injured workers. Thus, driving down our workers’ compensation cost. Let me go through some of the highlights that I took out from that session. Dr. Iglesias described that 60% to 80% of lost days in workers compensation of lost workdays are unnecessary, this idea of needless disability. There’s a number of psychosocial reasons for that but it’s important for us as non-medical professionals to understand and appreciate really the value of this one statistic as we’re looking at our own individual work comp management programs.
He talked about this idea of the injured worker often being in-charge of determining disability. He described that patient-doctor interaction. He also described some of the little tricks which I thought this was fairly interesting. If you Google doctor’s notes, you can get a very specific doctor’s note that looks very real, that has a phone number that you can call in order for the employer to verify your injury, verify the time needed out of work. The injured worker is often determining their own disability in many cases not coming directly from the doctor. He went into a much greater detail and I’m oversimplifying that point, but I think it’s important piece to understand how much of an impact the injured worker has on determining their own disability and the tools that that injured worker has at their disposal.
Redirect Conversation from Pain to Function
Next piece here then was redirecting the conversation from talking about pain to discussing function. Now, this was an impactful takeaway point for me because one of the things that I always recommend on the reports of injury is having a pain scale so that when you’re reporting that industry, you have that understanding of the current level of pain, and then you could re-look back at that later. Dr. Iglesias described this discussion of pain as being unproductive, that the more you focus on pain, the worse that pain becomes. Instead of talking about pain, talking about function, what can you do today, impacting these biopsychosocial elements that contribute to these unnecessary lost workdays.
So, takeaway here is redirecting pain to function. Next piece here then from this presentation was reframing this physician relationship, reframing the expectations of the physician relationship. So often we asked too much of our physicians. We asked, “Well, Joe got injured. Can he be back to work today or not?” The answer that Dr. Iglesias described was often from the physician’s perspective, “I don’t really know. I don’t really know the limitations that he needs. I don’t really know his job demands. I don’t really know the tolerance that Joe has for pain.” So when you reframe this doctor’s relationship, as Dr. Iglesias described it, he described to talk about things that can actually be measurable, the limitations, the capacity, and the actual restrictions themselves of the injured worker.
So rather than, “Can Joe be back to work today or not,” talk about what are the limitations of Joe, what is the capacity of Joe, and what are the restrictions of Joe, then it’s up to the employer to decide if Joe can be back to work or not, not the treating physician. That’s the discussion and that’s a framing that needs to be had with those treating physician relationships that you proactively develop. Last takeaway from this one session which I thought was a great clarifying question because not all the time do you have these great and interactive treating physician relationships, not all the time are your physicians on board, so if you’re working with a new physician or the relationship hasn’t developed quite so well going back to this point that injured workers are often the ones that are determining their own disability.
“If Your Patient Asked to Go Back to Work, Would You Allow It”
Asking this question that if your patient asked to go back to work, would you allow it. So, asking the treating physician the clarifying question that if your patient, if Joe asked you then, “Can I go back to work,” would that treating physician allow it? If the answer is yes then you know that there’s really no medical reason that Joe needs to be out of work. If the answer is, “No, I wouldn’t allow it,” then you need to further clarify what those medical reasons are. I thought it was a tremendous clarifying question to speak directly to this point of needless disability.
Top 5 Take Aways from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference
…to be continued
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 .
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