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Innovation and Bias

19 Jul, 2023 Harvey Warren

harvey warren224x185

Is there bias in how workers’ comp approaches innovation? An old riddle may shed some light on how pre-conceptions may be keeping the industry from better outcomes and reduced claim costs.

“A father and his son are in a terrible car accident. The father dies on the way to the hospital. The boy survives and is taken in for emergency surgery. The surgeon examines the boy and says, 'I cannot do surgery on this boy because this is my son.'"

How is this possible?

I remember being challenged by this riddle for the first time in my 20s. I could not imagine how that could be possible. But, it is entirely possible …

“The surgeon is a woman. She is the boy's mother!”

Right, the image of the surgeon that came to mind was a man. That’s the essence of bias on a personal level. Bias also applies to the understanding of data and suggests “a systematic distortion of a statistical result due to a factor not allowed for in its derivation."

I am often asked the question when I am speaking about optimizing patient outcomes with education and coaching, “What’s it gonna cost me?” It would seem to be a pretty fair question until I really started to look at the data. The bias in that question assumes new and improved services cost more than what is currently in service. The more incisive question might be, “Can optimizing injured workers with improved patient engagement save on claim costs by getting my injured worker back to work faster?”

I have talked about the “the get better faster, stay better longer” value of optimizing patients with education and coaching for some time. On Aug. 21st, NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Walton, will keynote the WCI convention in Orlando and then join me, and Dr. Melissa Tonn, MD on a panel moderated by Brian Allen. The subject is how education and coaching for injured workers can improve recovery outcomes while reducing claim costs.

Is your case management team asking the right question when they hear about patient engagement and patient optimization? Is the immediate biased belief that whatever the service is it is bound to just add to the already ballooning cost of workers’ comp? If the first thing that comes to mind is, “What is the ROI on optimizing injured workers”, you may want to look at the recently released Ohio BWC study on knee injury recovery times. When Ohio implemented costly enhanced patient engagement strategies, injured workers returned to work 30% faster saving millions of dollars.

If you see me at a convention, please, don’t ask me what optimizing an injured worker will cost… ask me how much optimizing that person is going to save. Let’s leave the bias at the door.

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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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