The past several years have been rough on everyone. COVID-19 shut down large portions of industry within the United States almost overnight. The roll-out of vaccines has offered a ray of hope but left many questioning their role within society. A nationwide re-open stalled as new variants emerged. Employees have left the workplace in droves due to costs associated with child care and inflation.
Now is the time to reimagine workers’ compensation and put a human element into it. There may be some upfront costs to these efforts, but they will pay off in the long run. Interested stakeholders should strongly consider making the following changes in the coming year.Include and Publicize Access to Translation Services
The United States is the land of many people – and languages. A quick walk through any workplace will see countless people who do not speak English as a primary language. The result is fear and uncertainty when they are forced into a system driven by the use of English. These fears may include:
- Inability to communicate with employer representatives about return to work issues;
- Inability to communicate with the claim handler regarding medical care they receive; and
- Inability to communicate with members of the claim management team about their workers’ compensation benefits.
Stakeholders seeking to create a culture of inclusion should seize this opportunity by adding free translation services. Using a trained translator via telephonic translation services will meet the challenges of a diverse workforce. Some of the many immediate benefits can include:
- Ability to communicate with employer representatives about return to work issues and time off to attend medical appointments;
- Ability to communicate with the claim handler. This can even be of benefit to an individual with above-average knowledge of the English language but fearful of not using the correct word; and
- Ability to communicate the workers’ compensation claim process and ensure everyone is on the same page.
The result is better and more complete communication. It also reduces the opportunity for someone to claim they were not receiving care and did not understand a letter sent to them about an appointment.
Offer Uber, Lyft, Ztrip, and Other Rideshare Services
The cost of reliable transportation has also placed a burden on countless injured employees. Employees have faced many challenges with COVID-related closures and the allocation of financial resources. Sometimes, a broken-down car means that the employee must miss a physical therapy appointment. The lack of public transportation or concerns regarding virus transmission on mass transit has forced others to miss important doctor appointments.
The inability for an injured employee to get to a medical appointment creates problems for everyone – and only prolongs the life of a claim. For example, an employee uses a treatment modality like physical therapy to regain strength. Disruptions in care will lead to delayed recovery and deconditioning. The insurance carrier then spends more money on a claim.
Adding the “benefit” of accessible rideshare empowers everyone. It removes the excuse for not attending an appointment. It also makes it easier for the claim handler to identify “missed appointments” and alerts them to take action. This benefit also demonstrates good faith in the claim team.
Other Services to Offer
There are other services a claim team can offer to build confidence in their client and employee. These services also improve the claim experience for the employee and build confidence and morale.
- Telephonic Nurse Triage: These phone services are supported by trained nurses who can assist in first aid for injuries not requiring emergency medical services. They will also work with assessing the injury and direction of further medical care. Everyone wins.
- Telephonic Disability Intervention: These services are operated by vocational counselors who can guide the employee in getting back to work and answer questions that allow the employee to re-engage with life.
- Retraining Programs: These are generally programs of last resort when it is clear the employee will not be able to return to their pre-injury position, and there is limited employment at other workplaces that would restore the employee financially. Retraining programs should be scrutinized and used with caution.
The new year should be a time of new beginnings. This can occur in any workers’ compensation program seeking to reimagine the process and get employees back to work. When done correctly, there can be an immediate reduction in costs. Now is the time to humanize your workers’ compensation program.
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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
Contact: [email protected].
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