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Getting In the Game

29 Aug, 2023 Harvey Warren

harvey warren224x185

The 2023 WCI Convention in Orlando was very much about the future of workers’ comp. The celebrity keynote by Bill Walton was the follow-up on an exploration of AI and other tools that are likely to reshape the delivery of workers’ comp services in the very near future. At the other end of the tech spectrum, Bill Walton addressed the challenges of injury recovery that had very little to do with technology and everything to do with the mindset and commitment of the injured worker. He was talking about the human touch peer-to-peer coaching needed to accomplish a speedy and complete recovery. Whether AI or patient education and peer-to-peer coaching, getting in the game is all about embracing and utilizing new ideas. The axiom is, “If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you have always got.” If you want better outcomes, it’s time to consider something new.

I participated in a panel with Bill Walton, Dr. Melissa Tonn and Douglas Amend, which was moderated by Brian Allen. Bill, as a legendary basketball player, is famous for his relationship with coaches. He attributes much of his professional and personal success to guidance from great coaches. In the context of WCI, Recovery Coaches who have been injured and successfully returned to their life and can show you the way. We had shared our perspective with Dr. Melissa Tonn and Bill Minick that the patient education and recovery coaching program we were developing with Bill Walton was a missing link in the recovery process for injured workers. After carefully assessing our programming, they made a commitment to test the method with us and… got in the game.

At the convention Dr. Tonn shared some remarkable data gathered from 25 of the patients that we “coached” with videos, audios, meal planning and a weekly call from a Recovery Guide. Those assets were utilized by the case managers at OccMD. Many of the injured Dr. Tonn assigned to us at Optimized Outcome Solutions were difficult situations that included comorbidities and repeat injuries. Gathering the data for our panel she discovered something that she never expected.

Of the 25 cases reviewed that we provided education for and coaching to, all of them went back to work in a timely fashion despite their comorbidities and other challenges. That was interesting and beneficial, but it was not the surprise. Dr. Tonn also reported that none of the injured worker cases we supported involved litigation. No lawyer ever entered the conversation with the injured worker. Dr. Tonn reported at the convention that the total absence of litigation was not the norm and very much outside of the box.
The employers who work with Dr. Tonn and OccMD were willing to get in the game and invest in an additional service to see if enhanced patient engagement can reduce costs and not just add to the workers’ comp burden.

Like the Ohio-BWC Study that I have written about previously, the little that they invested upfront on enhanced services resulted in significant savings due to improved outcomes.

Douglas Amend, who was on the panel, is often bemused at the difficulty of getting the workers’ comp industry to embrace new ideas and new services. He is often seen scratching his head and saying, “Horse, water, dead horse” as the analogy of our trying to lead the industry to what we believe is cost-saving water. The leadership and vision of OccMD to experiment with innovation and commit to improving outcomes as a way to support injured workers and reduce claim costs is a now proven strategy the workers’ comp industry can embrace to "get in the game”.

Technology and AI are shaping up to provide better care monitoring and worker participation. Coaching has proven to improve outcomes and provide savings with essential education and mindset encouragement. Together they make a game plan that can improve the game and provide a win for everyone.

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    About The Author

    • Harvey Warren

      Harvey Warren has enjoyed many careers, from screenwriter to film producer to financial services professional. With a bachelor’s de­gree in communications from Ithaca College and a master’s degree from Syracuse Univer­sity, writing has always been his passion. As the Optimized Patient he fulfills his dream to write about healing. Joining the Experts Analysis enables Mr. Warren to directly contribute the “patient’s view” to the industry. Mr. Warren lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Wileen.

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