July 1, 2018 – Shifting The Focus to Recovery – by Jim Anderson

The workers’ compensation world has been seen and analyzed from a variety of different perspectives, but a new focus is required to truly make a difference in the system for the future.  The common failures from system to system are often the recipient of changes and modifications dictated by whichever political group yields the strongest power at the time.  Too often, rarely is there a balanced and profession focus on actually improving the system.  Candidly, most systems seem to remain focused on the wrong thing–pay an injured worker as much as the system will permit with no regard for a real improvement in the injured worker’s quality of life. Some even permit poor treatment choices designed to not provide functional improvement but instead only increase the amount of “disability” and available compensation benefits.

More and more people are convinced that the system is named the wrong thing–it should be called Workers’ Recovery rather than Workers’ Compensation.  The poor name choice permits everyone to focus only on paying benefits, or how to limit those payments, but it fails what would be in the injured worker’s best interests–getting him or her back to work and maintaining a higher quality of life than a WC benefit will permit.

The Workers’ Recovery Group envisions a shift from the immediate goal of just compensating an injured worker for an injury to a long-term goal of providing a package of services that return the worker back to a productive life.  To accomplish such a goal, a variety of steps have to be taken, and those challenges are the heart of The Workers’ Recovery Group.

Among the services being offered by Workers’ Recovery Group are the following:

  • Assisting with rewriting statutes for legislative consideration to accomplish the specific goals of designing a system with a return to work focus;
  • Assisting the responsible Administrative Agencies in designing a program to implement the new strategy including necessary management staff and vocational rehabilitation professionals;
  • Assisting regulators with the implementation of strategies to fully utilize strong tools such as drug formularies and treatment guidelines to administer medical and disability issues;
  • Educating employers on the social and financial benefits of getting injured employees back to work;
  • Assisting employers in designing appropriate return to work protocols;
  • Providing mediation of disputes encountered while pursuing the return to work goals, including disputes between employees and management, as well as the mediation of disputes focused on managing litigation appropriately;
  • Providing “second opinions” regarding pending litigation to assist all parties in achieving appropriate results.

The Workers’ Recovery Group has a new vision for workers’ compensation systems.  It is time to take the steps to move those systems into a new generation of concepts, tools and protocols.