Advocacy and the Injured Worker Experience
Employers who have adopted and embraced advocacy early on are becoming increasingly creative in the way they engage employees. Initial results are impressive, yielding improved outcomes. This session at WCI’s 2019 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference examined the important elements of an employee advocacy approach.
- Noreen Olson, RN, MN, COHN-S, ARM, Manager, Claims, Risk Management, Starbucks
- Tracey Gasper, Manager, Insurance Programs, Hertz Claims Management
- Steve Figliuolo, Enterprise Risk Management, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
- Debra Livington, Chief Executive Officer, ReEmployAbility, Inc
- Scott Westman, CPCU, CRM, CIC, ARM, SCLA, Senior Vice President – Casualty Operations, Sedgwick CMS (moderator)
Advocacy has been a buzzword that has been around for a while in the workers’ compensation space. Essentially, it means taking care of people. It is a holistic approach with communications and empathy at the forefront.
Expediency and convenience is paramount. It is important to gain knowledge of a claim as quickly as possible and also to have the right medical group providing the best care possible. For instance, Starbucks allows employees to self-report their claim so they can respond quickly once it is received. They allow employees to opt-in to receive communications via text and provide telehealth options for care. Hertz sends a welcome letter that spells out information like what to expect and who to contact. Chick-fil-A has implemented a nurse triage line to expedite care along with a TPA call line. This phone line not only frees up the adjuster, but allows employees to speak to a live person at any time with basic workers’ compensation questions.
Measurement is important as well. Panelists look at metrics like lag time, litigation rates, cost-per-payroll. Chick-fil-A also study claims-causing behaviors to try to prevent the injury from occurring in the future.
Buy-in is required, but not necessarily easy to achieve down the chain. It has to start with the CEO and trickle down. To get everyone on board, panelists communicate to several stakeholders immediately after the claim is filed. For instance, Starbucks triggers a notice to the manager and medical partners outlining what happened, how can it be mitigated and also what needs to be communicated to safety and health operations teams. Hertz uses the information to train and re-train their front-line supervisors.
The right medical care is also an important element. Your injured workers often have no idea where to go and what to do for medical treatment. That can be an equation for catastrophic thinking. A nurse case manager can help put all of that into perspective and give the injured employee a path forward. It is important to find providers that share your values. Bill review and physician scores can help provide that feedback. It cannot be about getting the cheapest provider. You definitely save in the long run by choosing high-quality medical partners.
Finally, your return-to-work program should not be a secret. Transparency is an important element of advocacy. Why are we not talking about return to work as a benefit? Communication must be constant. Learn about what your employee is going through. Learn about their home life while injured and communicate how returning to work can help improve that. Returning to work can help give them satisfaction and purpose.