There are many opportunities for the claim management team to enhance their ability to move claims forward through changes in technology and trends. Now is the time for leaders in the industry to embrace these opportunities and drive efficiencies in their claims programs that will reduce program costs and improve outcomes. Implementing these changes requires risk, but the rewards are endless.
Invest in Technology
Now is the time to move to a digitized claim system. Too many claim systems run on old DOS-style systems subject to breakdown, delays, and countless steps to do simple tasks. There are many benefits of a digitized claim system that will reduce on simple tasks:
- Consistency of Information: Many claim systems allow the manual input of data. The problem is numbers get transposed, and information gets corrupted. Modern systems that rely on web form functions reduce errors and allow the claim team to have a greater level of consistency and confidence in the data they use;
- Claim Investigation: Digitized claim systems allow users to access information, including crucial moments like the First Report of Injury. They can also prompt claim team members to perform certain functions and promote self-service by the injured employee.
- Streamlining of Process: Claim handlers are required to perform many functions and calculations. Most current claim systems cannot perform these functions streamlined and efficiently. Claim teams can automate functions and better process claim information using existing technology, such as wage calculations and payments.
Investments in new technology do cost money. When done correctly, the investment costs can be recouped.
Invest in People
About 1.6 million people are involved in the claim management industry. While this seems like many people, roughly 85,000 people leave the industry annually. These people are not being replaced.
Competition for the best claim handlers is a part of any business, but many in the industry move from one company to another. The bottom line is the industry needs more qualified people to provide best-in-class customer service and survive.
- Consider the Demands of the Workforce: The COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of the American workforce for decades to come. Countless employees proved they could work remotely and be effective and productive employees. Consider a hybrid approach to job posting requirements that allows new hires and current staff the flexibility of remote work but promotes a collegial workforce that can connect within a physical workplace setting.
- Develop Skills for All Employees: Countless surveys indicate that employees want to learn new skills. Consider job skill development and only hire those willing to learn new skills. These skills can be transferable to all aspects of the claim-handling process. It will challenge team members to become better problem solvers.
- Re-evaluate Basic Requirements: A four-year college degree has generally been required for members of the claim management team. With the “Great Retirement” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders within the claims industry should re-evaluate whether this skill set is necessary. Instead, consider a new hire’s life experiences, background, and other vocational traits.
There are many opportunities to attract new claim team members from the Millennial and Gen-Z generations. People from other generations, such as Gen-X, should not be discounted based on age. Now is the time to expand the pool of qualified individuals to work within your team.
Face the Challenges of Rising Indemnity and Medical Spending on Claims
One of the biggest challenges to the claim industry in workers’ compensation is the rising cost of indemnity and medical claims. While inflation has most recently driven this, other factors claim handlers can consider addressing this issue. Money saved will reduce program costs and allow the team to settle the most troublesome claims.
- Return to Work: This is a must for every claim and should start at the time of injury. Be creative and get injured employees back to work as soon as possible.
- Promote Self-Service Options: Claim handlers often fill out forms that stakeholders can efficiently complete. Efforts to implement these procedures can coincide with modernization projects.
- Provide Better Training to Claim Handlers: Never assume a claim handler knows how to do something. Foster an environment where anyone can ask a question and receive answers non-judgmentally.
All interested stakeholders should look for opportunities to reduce workers’ compensation program costs, while ensuring an injured employee receives all benefits they are entitled to. Demand everyone engage in efforts to reduce program costs and streamline processes to make a program more efficient.
There are many opportunities to drive efficiency through innovation in any workers’ compensation program. It all starts with a commitment to invest in technology and the people who use it. It also requires hard work to face inflation-driven challenges to provide better services. Taking steps now can reduce workers’ compensation program costs and ensure a better system.
Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx LLC, is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and provides education, training, and consulting to help employers reduce their workers’ compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is co-author of the #1 selling comprehensive training guide “Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers’ Comp Costs: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%.” Stack is the creator of Injury Management Results (IMR) software and founder of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. WC Mastery Training teaching injury management best practices such as return to work, communication, claims best practices, medical management, and working with vendors. IMR software simplifies the implementation of these best practices for employers and ties results to a Critical Metrics Dashboard.
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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