This year has seen steps forward as well as backward.
While new developments will continue to unfold and contribute to some level of uncertainty with COVID-19, as an industry we are full-steam moving forward, taking lessons learned and putting strategies into place that will make us more resilient.
In this issue of RxInformer, we address some of the ripple effects that stem from the pandemic and explore how they impact the workers’ comp industry, the care delivered to injured worker patients, and the workforce at large. We hope the content in these articles will prove useful to you as you move forward, as well.
Starting with a focus on the injured worker, many of those who were infected by the virus may face long-term health complications. The Long Haul: Chronic Health Complications of COVID-19 explores the two ways in which people are experiencing long-term COVID-19 effects – those who experience long-term symptoms, even after beating the virus, and the more severe cases where patients’ bodies were severely impacted by the virus. In both cases, treating these individuals for a concurrent or future workplace injury may be similar to treating a patient with a comorbidity, in terms of the added complexities to consider.
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted specific populations in this country, and this extends to the workforce.
For instance, women have been more adversely affected by the pandemic-driven recession than men. Out of Balance: Workforce Gender Disparities and What They Mean for Workers’ Comp looks at how women experienced greater job loss, including within low-wage jobs and healthcare positions that are comprised of higher ratios of female vs male employees. Furthermore, because childcare and eldercare responsibilities are still most often directed to women, female workers often must prioritize other responsibilities over employment. With fewer women in the workforce, how might population changes impact the dynamics of workers’ comp claims and medical care?
From a broad workforce perspective, we have heard much from employers on the challenges they face as they balance employee safety and business needs during and beyond COVID-19. Sickness and Society: The Future of Infectious Disease in the Workplace explores strategies that employers can implement to reduce the risk of infectious disease spread in the workplace – from testing protocols, to revised sick leave policies, office design considerations and employee education.
Pandemic-driven shifts in employment have contributed significantly to the growth of the gig economy, and the potential impacts this can have on workers’ comp is addressed in Classification Complications: Will Gig Workers Enter the Workers’ Comp Market? Millions of workers in the gig economy are currently considered independent contractors who are not entitled to certain benefits such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and workers’ comp. However, many state and federal actions indicate that millions of these workers could soon be classified as employees, who are entitled to such benefits, meaning workers’ comp would have a new wave of workers to insure.
I hope you find these articles informative and useful as we continue to navigate an ever-evolving landscape. For every setback we face, there will be many more steps forward – if we continue to work together to find solutions for the people and causes we truly care about.
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.