CA DWC Implements Paper Cleanup Plan

Oakland, CA (CompNewsNetwork) - The Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) has implemented a multi-phase plan to help its district offices across the state process paper forms into the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS). This plan, which has already begun, includes a taskforce to assist district offices in forms processing, training for internal and external users on how to properly file EAMS forms, and additional forms testing for vendors.

"While we are still in our first year of EAMS implementation, the grace period we allowed for professional-level filers is long past," said DWC Regional Manager Joel Harter. "We are making a concerted effort to clean up paper backlogs and need our filers to help us keep it clean by filing correctly."

DWC district offices have faced a paper backlog challenge since EAMS implementation in August of last year. This challenge has arisen for several reasons:

   1. District offices had varying levels of backlog before DWC started converting to EAMS
   2. Weeks of additional backlog built up while DWC converted data from the WCAB online system to EAMS
   3. DWC went live with EAMS in August but, based on external user needs, did not require the use of optical character recognition (OCR) forms for workers' comp        professionals until December
   4. DWC gave unrepresented injured workers a grace period through June of 2009 for filing OCR forms, which will amount to a total of 10 months during which            DWC accepted forms which are not OCR compatible 
   5. The OCR forms are new and there is a learning curve for processing by DWC staff
   6. The OCR forms require external users to be far more meticulous when filing than they have been in the past
   7. Some forms developed by external parties did not work in an equivalent manner to DWC created forms, resulting in decreased data capture by the scanners        and increased processing time by DWC staff.

All these factors have combined to create a paper backlog in many district offices. Several actions are now underway to eliminate that backlog and correct filing errors.  

First, a lien backlog scanning center was created at DWC headquarters in Oakland. All offices have now sent their lien backlog to Oakland for processing, which has provided some relief at the district office level. Liens filed after the first of the year continue to be processed at district offices.

Second, a taskforce was created to help district offices eliminate their backlog by focusing on one office at a time and one document at a time, beginning with "Applications for Adjudication of Claim." The team is working on documents filed on or after Jan. 1, which should be in compliance with regulations requiring OCR forms. Scanning and completion centers have been established so the taskforce can process documents filed correctly into EAMS.

Those filers whose forms were filed after Jan. 1, but which are not in compliance, will be receiving documents returned with notices of deficiency, which detail mistakes that need to be corrected. Returned documents will receive priority processing when re-filed. Additionally, when the taskforce determines that specific filers appear to have multiple problems, they are calling the filers in to provide direct assistance.

Once the taskforce has been to an office, the EAMS internal training team will follow up with targeted consultation to assist district office staff with ongoing training and business process changes, which should help prevent the backlog from growing again. 

The division will be asking forms developers to send in a set of the EAMS OCR forms they've developed for testing to ensure the forms comply with regulations, which require they work in an equivalent manner to DWC created forms. Vendors should look for an additional forthcoming newsline with details on this process.

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