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MaxKoonce-Sedgwick-SVPDuring my career, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to spend several years with Walmart. They allowed me to grow, learn and develop. Working as senior director of risk management for the largest private-sector employer in the U.S. presented many different points within the risk management industry overall. It also prepared me well to move into a career with Sedgwick and to help other employers continue to enhance their programs.

In my first Sedgwick blog article, I’d like to discuss key risk management strategies that can help improve results for employers.

The biggest challenge with workers’ compensation for retailers and employers in every industry is ensuring they are getting the best possible results relative to the cost. Looking at the costs incurred to treat employees, get them back to work and manage lost productivity, employers want to be sure everything is being done to get employees well and back to work as soon as possible.

When you look at some of the barriers to improving costs and productivity, state regulations are the biggest component. They mandate how each state’s program is going to work. The states with the best results have regulatory environments that promote return to work, support appropriate and prompt medical treatment, and do not have delays built into them. These states have the highest return to work results and the lowest numbers of individuals who are permanently impaired and do not go back to work. The regulatory aspect is the primary component because it mandates how the state is going to function in the workers’ compensation environment.

The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Study, published every other year, shows the states that are doing well based on a comparable, constant set of risk classifications. The states that have some of the lowest premium costs are the states that have regulatory environments focused on the employee and the employer, and facilitating the best options for resolving injuries and getting employees back to work.

Key strategies:

  • Become involved legislatively – Workers’ compensation is a cost that to some extent can be controlled. No organization is ever going to prevent every injury and have a perfect work environment, but there are things you can do to help shape reforms and legislation to promote better results.
  • Be innovative – This is why I have welcomed the opportunity to join Sedgwick. To continue to get better results, you have to be innovative in the way that you approach things. Sedgwick is doing that. They are using predictive analytics and trends to help achieve the best results for the injured employee. By plugging in the right resources at the right time based on predictive modeling, we can help employees recover and get back to work as quickly and safely as possible. Some examples include:
    • Focusing provider benchmarking criteria on identifying the physicians who deliver high value and produce the best outcomes based on the injury
    • Matching the claim with the adjuster’s skill set; whether it is a specific type of injury or a catastrophic claim, having an adjuster who has experience with the same type of claims and knows the best options for medical management and nurse oversight can enhance the overall process
  • Offer return to work and light duty options – This is a key aspect to getting employees healthy and productive; for small and medium employers, the job options might be limited, but there are still creative ways to help employees stay productive
  • Provide the best customer service – Ensuring the highest quality customer service includes paying attention to the employer and injured employee, listening, responding and providing information; this is a vital across all types of claims.

Look for future posts as we share more ideas and strategies for improving risk management.

Max Koonce, Senior Vice President, Client Services, Sedgwick

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One Response to 4 key risk management strategies to help improve results for employers

  1. Richard Rabs says:

    Max-

    I think your key strategies are on point. The first, about being involved legislatively, is something I believe most organizations miss. Either because of the stigma of being ‘political’ or the ‘uselessness; of the effort, most employers decline to get involved…which means only the employee’s representative (read that as plaintiffs’ or petitioners’ bar) make an effort. Employers can join forces and the voice of many is often more effective than the voice of one. Either through chambers or other business groups or as risk managers and claims managers through RIMS at both the national and state levels advocacy is important. RIMS sponsors state legislative activity each year in the various states through the local chapters with the assistance of RIMS’ Governmental Affairs team (I would recommend anyone interested call Nate Bacchus at RIMS).

    Your second issue of innovation requires that we constantly look at our processes. Our businesses always look at ways to improve their products and we should be looking at ways to improve the process and I believe the carriers and TPAs should be leading the charge. Thank you for offering.

    Lastly, we all know return to work has been a strength to lowering costs and retaining employees. We must hold operations accountable. a person does not become a ‘bad actor’ after they file a claim. They were likely were one before and the system should not be used to weed them out of an organization. Rather, the character of a company is measured how they treat injured workers.

    I look forward to reading your future posts.

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