The First 24 Hours – Using available technology to do more better in injury claim management

The First 24 Hours – Using available technology to better manage injury claims.

Anyone who has ever watched a criminal procedure drama (think Law & Order, NCIS, etc…) knows the first 24 hours are critical to the success of solving a crime. While workers compensation is, by it’s very nature, a reactive industry, the ethos still holds true. The best claim outcomes are likely to occur when providing an injured worker the best, most appropriate care and claim service in the first moments after an injury.

After decades of waiting days or even weeks before an adjuster can get involved in a claim, the industry has recently begun to implement early intervention strategies. To this end, telephonic nurse triage, telemedicine and leveraging automation to expedite claim information to the adjuster have been a few of the more successful strategies deployed. That success has bred a sense of contentment in the industry. As if all that can be done, is being done. However, for those who strive to continually improve and adapt, there are in fact enhancements to do more and, most importantly, to do more better.

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Over the last twelve months, our industry has started to burn out over the “tele-everything” movement to the extent that many are resistant to exploring new ways of leveraging next generation video technology for more than just the occasional physician visit. It’s understandable to some degree as the conferences and publications are overrun with articles essentially hammering away the same points over and over again about how telemedicine can save time and money. To be fair, the points are valid and ostensibly being proven out through any number of payer-driven programs. But limiting the use of the technology to just physician visits is like inventing the automobile only to use it for taxi’s (or uber rides). Why not expand the utilization of such useful and beneficial technology to capture value anywhere and everywhere you can?

Despite overwhelming, and painfully obvious benefits, the industry has continued to rely almost entirely on “telephonic” nurse triage, even though the technology exists to implement a Video Triage program. When you visit the doctor’s office, would you prefer the nurse/physician examine you with their eyes closed and base their diagnosis entirely upon your verbal description of the injury? Silly question, isn’t it?

So doesn’t it make the most sense in the world to give a triage nurse the ability to see the patient? To visualize the injury? To provide support and medical guidance through a face-to-face connection? Justice should be blind, but nurses providing emergent care to an injured worker should not be. The technology is there. It’s used every day for physicians to do their telemedicine visits. Why are so few Triage companies putting the same technology in the hands of their nurses on the front lines? An enormous opportunity for our industry to do more and to do more better is here.

Video Nurse Triage will help address those important first few minutes after an injury. Providing urgent and critical medical guidance and direction toward the most appropriate care for the injured worker. If that worker’s injury is likely to lead to lost time, we move into the next phase of the claim. The ever-important first impression with their claim adjuster. Not that long ago, adjusters went into the field to meet with injured workers. An adjuster would walk into their house, sit down and have a face-to-face discussion about how they are doing and educate them on all of the elements of the claim process. The idea seems almost unimaginable now but it really did happen and the results were considerably more positive than they are today. Even if an adjuster gets the claim in a day or two, the next step is still a cold, impersonal telephone conversation. Even the most friendly and compassionate adjuster can only convey so much empathy through a telephone headset. That loss of humanity leaves many injured workers feeling isolated and frightened by the process, then many turn to an attorney for advice and now you have a litigated claim on your hands. The opportunity for direct communication with the injured worker is lost and everything will go through one attorney to another as it becomes an adversarial process.

We have the technology to do more and do more… better. As with the nurses, why not put the video technology in the hands of your adjuster? How much more impactful can an adjuster be when they are face-to-face with the injured worker right from the start? How many cases avoid litigation? How many injured workers avoid unnecessary medical treatment because their “as-seen-on-tv” attorney wants to drive up the settlement amount? How much more meaningful is it to the adjuster to see the face of an injured worker and restore the sense of humanity we have lost in the claim process over the last two decades?

The technology is here and available for those looking to truly differentiate themselves in the industry. Adjusters are able to be face-to-face with the injured worker with no travel costs and without the liability of sending them into the field.  Video technology is more than just physician telemedicine visits. Employers can connect with their coworkers to check in on how they are doing and to provide support for their return to health and return to work. Adjusters, triage nurses, field case nurses, investigators, attorneys, underwriters, safety professionals, the list goes on and on.

Look past just telemedicine and discover the opportunities available. Connect with anyone at any time in any location. Put more humanity into our industry and let’s see how much more we can all do… and how much more we can all do better together.

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