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As modern workplaces continue to evolve in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too must workers’ compensation claims organizations in order to achieve optimal outcomes. Yet, standing in the way are deeply entrenched challenges that more than 3,300 claims leaders and frontline professionals have brought to the forefront in previous Workers’ Compensation Benchmarking Study research.

Eight years of data shows – to succeed in the face of core claims challenges – organizations need to transform legacy processes, mindsets, semantics, and ingrained cultural practices. Specifically, our data shows that those claims organizations with superior outcomes are also those who are further along in this transformation process,” said Rachel Fikes, chief experience officer and study program director at Rising Medical Solutions. “With this in mind, our latest research brought together claims leaders from diverse organizations to dig deeper into exactly how they are evolving to outpace their peers.”

The ninth annual study draws upon first-person, focus group research for its latest report, with over 30 industry executives gathering this past December to examine real-world strategies organizations are using to overcome the foremost barriers to claims management mastery. Participant companies represented a national cross-section of self-insured employers, regional and national carriers, state funds, and third party administrators.

With claims, clinical, and medical management perspectives, the research exercise generated expert guidance payers can use to drive success by: (1) surmounting the repeatedly ranked top obstacles to achieving desired claims outcomes, (2) moving from tactical to strategic, cultural change in the execution of employee-centric claims models, and (3) operationalizing social determinants of health (SDOH) best practices.

Focus group research topics were chosen based on prior study data and the resulting report contains three (3) concise lists of potent recommendations, including key claims strategies to:

– – Improve return-to-work options, drive incentives across stakeholders, and engage injured employees
– – Equip frontline professionals with optimal interventions, while addressing the stigma of psychosocial issues and mental health conditions
– – Overhaul communication practices to increase employee trust and reduce litigation
– – Redesign claims best practices to include an end-to-end, cultural focus on the employee-centric model
– – Utilize frontline claims professionals in employee-centric model design, implementation, and training to create ownership and accountability
– – Improve outcomes based on a total worker health model, including training on SDOH risk factors that go beyond the walls of the workplace, such as housing instability or food insecurity
– – Leverage community resources and social interventions for injured employees with potential health disparities

As in prior years, the new 2021 Report is available to all industry stakeholders without cost or obligation as a contribution to the workers’ compensation industry. It may be requested here.

The Workers’ Compensation Benchmarking Study is a national research program examining the complex forces impacting claims management in workers’ compensation today. The study’s mission is to advance claims management in the industry by providing both quantitative and qualitative data. Through survey research with claims leaders and practitioners nationwide, the program generates actionable intelligence for claims organizations to evaluate priorities, challenges, and strategies amongst their peers.