By Paul Binsfeld, president and founder of Company Nurse LLC

Are you ready for the workers’ compensation trends of 2020? While cannabis and opioid use have been circling the industry’s headlines in past years, there are several new trends (both challenges and opportunities) that I foresee for 2020.

Here’s my take on a few of these trends and how we’re preparing for them at Company Nurse.

EMBRACEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY AND TOOLS

Technology will play a larger role in 2020 in the typically slow-to-adopt workers’ comp industry. Partly due the entrance of Gen Z into the workforce, workers’ compensation service providers are looking for ways to make their products more accessible to workers, supervisors, employers, and any other stakeholder in the work comp process.

This includes utilizing tools like mobile apps and embracing an omnichannel approach. In addition, new technology has brought about the need and ability to develop robust cybersecurity management in your organization.

Utilizing Mobile Apps and Embracing an Omnichannel Approach

To understand the newest members of the workforce, you need to know that Generation Z isn’t just a more tech-savvy version of the Millennials.

Generation Zers grew up with more access to technology than their predecessors and have never known a time without constant connectivity. While Millennials have easily adapted to this connectivity, those in Generation Z expect it.

So, what does this mean for your workforce? That you’ll have to ensure all your employees, no matter their age, have access to communication channels that they are most comfortable with.

At Company Nurse, we’ve prepared for the evolving workforce with an omnichannel approach to our contact center. Instead of simply offering a single channel – telephonic – for injured workers to access our services, we expanded our channels to include text and web chat.

And to make it even easier to use these communication channels, we created an app to allow employees to efficiently access our service through their preferred channel with just a click of a button.

Developing Excellence in Cyber Security Management

The need for cyber security management has steadily increased over time as cybercriminals grow in sophistication and increase their threat vectors.

At Company Nurse we understand that as cybercriminals’ tactics become more sophisticated and powerful, so can your organization’s cyber security management. Developing a strong cyber security program will be vital in the workers’ comp industry in 2020.

By taking crucial steps of implementing a cyber security risk management program, improving employee awareness with frequent cyber security training, using a multilayered approach of people, processes, and technologies, and moving to the cloud, you can develop a robust cyber security program in your organization.

Make sure to check out this article from Company Nurse Chief Technology Officer Henry Svendblad, where he provides insight on how to create such a program.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION

Another important trend to look out for in 2020 is the increasing demand for access to data and analytics. In the workers’ comp industry, everyone from the claims adjuster to the employer to the injured worker will expect this access.

At Company Nurse, we’re prepared with our own data analytics tool for employers. In addition, we recently introduced Company Nurse Next Steps, an instant communication to the injured worker with the information needed to proceed in the workplace injury process.

To continue this flow of information, we actively explore collaborations with other best-in-class service providers who can add value to our clients’ workplace injury management programs by enhancing the experience for the injured worker.

And we have done the due diligence and integration work necessary to provide a seamless experience.

For example, we now offer a collaboration with Absentia Solutions℠, which provides a data-driven analytics engine to review the initial report of injury and identify potential high-risk claims.

With the permission of the client, we send our initial injury and nurse triage information into their ID15® process for psychosocial and situational analysis interview, they can more quickly and easily identify such claims.

We also work with PublicSchoolWORKS, provider of complete, online safety and regulatory compliance programs for K-12 schools. We provide our triage for the injured workers, while PublicSchoolWORKS triages the hazard.

Through our collaboration, when instructed by our clients, we send the injury report to the PublicSchoolWORKS system so they can automatically alert stakeholders to investigate and mitigate the hazard to prevent future accidents.

In addition, we offer a collaboration with One Call’s RelayRIDE as a solution for transportation to medical facilities for workplace injuries.

When an injured worker needs attention at a medical facility but does not have transportation, the Company Nurse triage nurse can schedule the worker a Lyft ride through RelayRIDE — without needing to download the Lyft app.

We offer these collaborations and more to increase our clients’ access to information, adding value to their overall workplace injury experience. And with the rise of technology in work comp, you can expect an increase in such collaborations.

Take the time to examine what other services would add value to your organization’s offerings and if such collaborations would be possible.

THE RISE OF SELF-INSURANCE

As Risk & Insurance states, “Self-insurance is becoming an increasingly attractive option for workers’ compensation, particularly for small and mid-sized employers that first adopted or explored self-insurance for their health care benefits.”

And several workers’ comp trends of 2020 will themselves contribute to the continuing rise of self-insurance.

First off, the embracement of technology will mean the continuous rise of insurtech and, as such, an increase in tools and programs available to organizations to better manage their insurance needs.

Next, with better access to workplace injury information, organizations are able to properly develop safety practices and put in place effective measures to prevent workplace injuries (e.g. PublicSchoolWORKS).

And when accidents do happen, nurse triage can get employees to the right care right away, helping to lower claims and costs.

With these trends, it’s no surprise that self-insurance is on the rise.

INCREASE IN MENTAL HEALTH AND PTSD CLAIMS

In 2018, at least 16 states considered legislation addressing workers’ compensation coverage for mental-only injuries, such as PTSD, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

While only a few states have put such laws into effect for mental-only injuries, requests for independent medical examinations for workers’ compensation claims with a psychological condition are rising.

While not all industries may see such a demand, there are still many workers whose mental health is heavily impacted by their job. Take for instance first responders, who are at risk for exposure to psychological trauma on a daily basis.

And managing such claims (mental-only injuries and physical injuries with psychological conditions) is complex. Each state has its own unique guidelines and limitations for psychological claims. Pair that with the intense investigation these claims require — including interviews with relatives, co-workers, supervisors, etc. — and you’ll find that these claims can spiral out of control.

That’s why it’s vital to have all the information you need to address these potentially high-risk claims, as soon as possible. At Company Nurse, we recognize this need and have found a solution through our collaboration with Absentia SolutionsSM.

Not only does this collaboration help to identify potential high-risk claims more accurately and quickly, but once these claims are identified, Absentia SolutionsSM provides guidance in mitigating their risk.

If you’re looking to stay ahead of these trends, make sure you use a nurse triage service that understands and prepares for them. Call Company Nurse first. As the premier nurse triage service for workplace injuries, we continue to perfect the process, taking care of employees, helping workplaces be more productive, and making businesses more profitable.