Workers’ Compensation Webcast: Adopting an Advocacy-Based Approach to Claims
An advocacy-based approach to workers’ compensation claims can help employers reduce their total cost of risk, improve productivity and morale, and more quickly return injured employees to work, according to speakers on a webcast sponsored by Marsh’s Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence (COE).
Employees who are injured on the job — many of whom are unfamiliar with corporate risk management departments and the workers’ compensation process — will often experience fear and confusion post-injury. An advocacy-based approach rooted in transparency and improved communication can address injured employees’ concerns, promote less adversarial relationships with employees, and ultimately contribute to better outcomes.
“As injured workers go through the workers’ compensation claims process, they really are looking for a few simple but really important things,” said Tara Acton, Director, Claims & Counsel, at CenturyLink. “They want to be treated fairly. They, of course, want to get quality medical care. And they want to have an idea of how the process is going to work and what our goals for the claim are.”
At CenturyLink, a full-time dedicated advocate has regular contact with all workers’ compensation claimants, starting within two days of their injuries. That has helped demonstrate to injured workers that the company values them and wants their condition to improve. Since its claims advocate was introduced in 2016, the litigation rate within the first 12 months of CenturyLink’s workers’ compensation claims has fallen by more than 70%.
Nurse triage models can also be effective. In the model used by CorVel, a third-party administrator, “Immediately following a workplace injury, employees call to speak with a registered nurse who will evaluate the incident. Our nurses specialize in occupational injuries and connect injured workers with the quality care they need, whether it is first aid, or referral to a preferred medical provider, or even the option to connect with a provider instantly via telehealth,” said Diane Blaha, Chief Marketing Officer at CorVel. This model has been shown to improve employee satisfaction, reduce the number of litigated claims, and reduce the average number of days claims are open, all of which ultimately contribute to lower total claims costs.
Ultimately, “Advocacy is centered on helping injured employees understand the workers compensation process, said Annette Sanchez, a senior vice president at Marsh Risk Consulting. “It’s about finding ways to improve understanding and mitigate concerns. It’s about using words that describe a complicated system in such a way that the employee can understand the roles of the different players including the adjuster, the nurse case manager, the medical providers, the employer and also his role in the process.”