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Survey shows changes needed to workers' comp system

Anyone who has suffered a work-related injury knows that workers' compensation benefits are incredibly helpful because they provide financial security for those who may need to miss a significant amount of time from their job due to an injury. But a new survey shows that if the industry doesn't work to make changes, access to these benefits may become more difficult down the road.

The survey, which was conducted by Rising Medical, looked at everything from how workers' compensation insurers recruited new talent to how these organizations utilized their resources. But after analyzing the 258 responses, researchers noticed a trend: the way many workers' compensation organizations do business now could be hurting future claims.

There were three main areas that researchers noticed that needed the most improvement. The first was current and future employees. As was noted by the survey's lead researcher, workers' compensation is an "aging industry" and is having trouble "bringing in new talent." There was also considerable concern about how organizations dealt with employee retention and how they used that talent to improve business.

Another thing that will need improvement is how workers' compensation organizations view and track medical performance. Because quality medical care is a crucial part in helping an injured worker return to their job, researchers believe that more could be done to evaluate prospective providers. Using more qualitative performance measures, the workers' compensation industry will not only ensure quality care but could potentially drive down costs as well.

The final area in need of change is technology, researchers said. Far too often, insurers are failing to utilize past data that could be used to help improve future processes. The use of technology and data storage could help organizations "monitor internal best practices" and recognize when changes need to be made. This would not only improve claim outcomes but ensure the best possible service as well.

Source: The Claims Journal, "Benchmarking Study Reveals Ways Workers’ Comp Organizations Can Improve Claims Outcomes," Denise Johnson, Aug. 8, 2014

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