Things appear to be improving.
According to the CDC, at least 82% of the country has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose, and meanwhile, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are trending down.
While the ripples of the pandemic will be felt for years to come, as a country, we are in many ways moving past COVID-19.
From a workers’ comp perspective, lawmakers spent the last two years shifting priorities to pandemic-driven concerns, and only now are we seeing a return to issues in workers’ comp such as PTSD, the role of opioids, drug pricing, new claims management regulations, and medical marijuana, just to name a few topics.
Meanwhile, the priorities of our industry appear to be shifting as well – some back to pre-pandemic concerns, and some to challenges caused by or exacerbated by the pandemic.
Healthe recently conducted our fourth annual Workers’ Comp Industry Insights Survey in conjunction with Risk & Insurance® magazine, with nearly 500 industry professionals sharing their thoughts on top industry trends, challenges, and priorities.
Our 2021 report was dominated by COVID-19, but the 2022 report found that stakeholders overall ranked other priorities as more important, particularly changing workforce dynamics, operational efficiency, claim complexity, and mental health.
Taking our cue from this gradual shift of focus, this issue of RxInformer features articles that take direction from our industry survey, highlighting some of the priorities raised by workers’ comp professionals.
The number one industry concern in the workers’ comp industry is the changing workforce/workplace, which is why Giving Notice: How Workforce Attrition Impacts Workers’ Comp examines how changing workforce trends – the Great Resignation, burnout across certain industries, economic factors, and other matters – are creating a cascade of effects that are impacting workers’ comp. The number of healthcare workers has decreased, while attracting and retaining talent in our industry remains a challenge. Furthermore, worker shortages can lead to more fatigue among remaining workers.
Executive leadership ranked supply chain disruption as a top concerning factor for industry resiliency, after the changing workforce/workplace and regulatory/legislative changes. Out of Stock: Medical Supply Chain Shortages Impacting Workers’ Comp explores current shortages in medical services, staffing and equipment, and strategies to help address the challenges.
The number one topic where respondents wanted more visibility was injured worker medical history. It is an ongoing effort in our industry to capture additional data to create a more holistic view of care. This can include comorbidities, medications not directly tied to a patient’s workers’ comp claims, psychosocial issues, and lifestyle habits.
As we considered what items not immediately visible on a claim can impact workers’ comp, a visible example of this was illustrated in a National Safety Council report that found 48% of workers identify themselves as cannabis users, with 1 in 3 employees witnessing cannabis use during work hours. The Cannabis Question: Marijuana and Workplace Safety reviews just how much public approval of marijuana has grown, how prevalent marijuana use – both medical and recreational – is in worker populations, and what that means for our industry.
Another top priority that stakeholders want visibility into are psychosocial factors and social determinants of health. Claims leaders, claims professionals, and clinical/case managers in particular ranked it highly as an area of desired visibility. As a result, we focused our attention on a new Social Determinants of Health Article Series, which kicks off in this issue of RxInformer with two articles.
Social Influence: The Role of Social Determinants of Health in Injured Worker Recovery provides an overview of social barriers to recovery from workplace injury, such as healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, economic stability, social and community context, and neighborhood and built environments.
In Harm’s Way: The Impact of Violence in Workers’ Comp dives more deeply into one particular social determinant of health. Exposure to violence can have a serious impact on worker health, causing direct injury, while domestic and community violence can adversely affect overall health, job performance, lead to accidents, and impeded recovery. Not only can violence lead to PTSD and depression, but it can cause physiological effects such as asthma, hypertension, and more.
I hope you find these articles educational as you plan your own future strategies. With the knowledge available, and the resiliency we have built up throughout the pandemic, it is within our power to better address some of these concerns as we continue to move forward.
Daryl Corr is Chief Executive Officer at Healthesystems. Mr. Corr has long been a technology innovator developing new ways in which to improve the delivery and quality of medical services. His focus on innovation has helped improve performance across the industry by automating various manual functions and improving transaction efficiency. His efforts to make disparate processes and systems work together helped transform the organizations he managed. Under Mr. Corr’s leadership, Healthesystems has grown into one of the largest workers’ compensation pharmacy and ancillary medical benefits management providers in the market.