How has the pandemic affected injured workers? Do drug formularies result in the best outcomes for injured workers and payers alike? What about ‘long-COVID:’ how many workers have or will have it? And, finally, if a national commission were appointed today to evaluate the state of workers’ compensation, what recommendations would it have?
Those are a small sample of the myriad questions that a prestigious group of industry experts will address on March 16 and 17 at the Workers Compensation Research Institute’s Issues and Research Conference in Boston. After last year’s pandemic-related hiatus, organizers have a full slate of sessions planned for the in-person event, under the theme: Emerging and Learning from Disruption.
Kicking things off will be one of the most oft-quoted industry experts. Dr. Robert Hartwig, former president of the Insurance Information Institute and now Director of Risk and Uncertainty Management Center and Clinical Associate Professor at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, will offer his unique insights into the many challenges facing the economy and their impacts on the workers’ compensation system in 2022 and beyond.
A major question facing all employers will be tackled during a panel discussion on the future of the workplace after COVID-19. While some workers can’t wait to get back to in-person work, many express the exact opposite view. Managing the different comfort levels of employees is one of the issues that will be discussed by a prominent assemblage of workers’ compensation professionals:
- Dan Allen, Executive Director for the Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO)
- Denise Algire, Director of Risk Initiatives & National Medical Director for Albertsons Companies
- Craig Ross, DO, Regional Medical Director at Liberty Mutual
- Sebastian Negrusa, PhD, Vice-President of Research at WCRI
The 1972 presidentially appointed national commission to review the workers’ compensation system will be the focus of a session that explores the findings from the report and where we are today. Two well-known industry speakers, attorney Alan S. Pierce and Judge David Langham will join WCRI CEO John Ruser to see which and how well the recommendations from the 50-year-old report have been addressed and what such a commission today might conclude.
Short and long-term consequences of COVID-19 will be discussed by a well-known physician, epidemiologist, and author, including the latest stats and predictions for long-COVID.
Known for its extensive research into the workers’ compensation system, WCRI will devote several sessions to its very latest studies. For example, one issue in the healthcare industry with potentially dramatic implications for the workers’ compensation system is the increased consolidation of medical providers in the U.S. This can significantly affect the prices of medical services, quality of care, access to providers, treatment patterns, costs of care, and worker outcomes. Two WCRI analysts will dig deep into the findings of their new study on the issue.
Two WCRI experts will analyze the benefits and concerns about drug formularies as they share the latest research from a multi-state study. They’ll look at:
- How do formularies differ, and what has been their impact on costs and prescribing?
- If prior approval is required for certain drugs, how frequently are those drugs prescribed?
- Do drug formularies result in the substitution of drugs that don’t require prior approval for similar drugs that do require prior approval?
WCRI policy analysts will reveal the latest trends in WCRI’s core benchmark studies. Among the focus of the study will be the changes in indemnity benefits per claim across states for non-COVID claims, the effects of New York’s Medical Fee Schedule change, and the state’s Board of Workers’ Compensation Payor Compliance Project.
The last time WCRI held its annual conference was March 2020, just days before the World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic. The isolation experienced during the intervening time has left many people feeling anxious – about returning to in-person work and even just being around people at all. We fear we are not up to the task of being social.
In addition, many organizations are seeking to diversify their workforces and facilitate collaboration among those with differences. While that can bring significant benefits, it also challenges learning to work with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
During his special keynote address, author Joe Keohane will address the idea of rebuilding our social muscles and learning to reengage with the world. The author of The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World, Keohane, will discuss reducing our anxiety while returning to a face-to-face world.
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.
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