Technology has become increasingly intertwined in our everyday lives throughout the last decade, and employers are overwhelmingly caught up in these trends amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. This year’s lockdown forced the majority of large and small businesses alike to transition to a fully remote work environment in a matter of weeks, a task many were not equipped to handle at the time. Originally intended as a temporary solution, this remote workforce has quickly become a new way of life for many, and it is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
While the remote work environment has some drawbacks, it has emphasized the benefits of utilizing technology in the workplace. These benefits are touching every department in the company, even reaching workers’ compensation operations and positively impacting HR professionals. Technology is a progressively essential component in educating the workforce, providing better job safety, and facilitating efficient claim filing and completion—all of which work together to increase productivity. As a picture is worth a thousand words, an example says it best.
Prior to what we now know as telemedicine, occupational clinics needed to be on site in order for the patient to be treated immediately. Thus, telemedicine is one new development that plays an integral role in streamlining the claims process. This is a phenomenal benefit for both employers and employees, but it can be a large expense for organizations. With telemedicine available, employers no longer have to take on this extra expense, and patients are still able to receive care almost without delay. Through telemedicine, nurses have the ability to speak with clients virtually, answering any questions they may have, and making assessments based on their injuries.
Technology can even assist with training purposes, as well. Gadgets, like wearable tech, can help ensure employees are taking care of themselves and maintaining a work-life balance. For instance, if an employee has a job that is more labor-intensive, wearable technology can assist with managing health by tracking different variables such as temperature, which could prevent something like heat exhaustion from occurring. This can be especially important as companies work to maintain social distancing standards in the workplace and are unable to monitor as closely as they once did. Further, knowing these important details allows the employer to proactively mitigate risk and share relevant resources with employees. For example, if the wearables show employees are continuously over-exerting themselves, the employer can share a short video that reviews best practices for health and safety while on the job. Fortunately, wearables aren’t the only solution of this type available, and there are various other products available for those who aren’t as keen on using wearable technology, but are still interested in leveraging technologies for training purposes.
While employers work to decrease the risk of on-the-job injury, these events still happen and claims must be processed. Submitting claims plays a large role in workers’ compensation, and recent events have prompted an increase in online-based claims submissions. Utilizing technology for conducting claims might, in fact, be even more efficient than the usual claims making process, as tools like phone applications and chatbots can actually boost productivity and efficiency for both employers and employees. There are a variety of mobile applications available which allow managers to easily report claims to carriers from anywhere, which cannot be done through the normal claims process. This not only reduces the cost of the claim but also the lag time, making the process quicker and much more efficient for all parties involved. With technology, adjusters are able to receive pertinent information from employers immediately, which typically would not happen during this process.
Utilizing these applications helps make the claims process more streamlined, which can be especially helpful for those with more involved injuries. Quite simply, if there is a delay in filing, there is also a delay in care. The ability to make a claim online prevents lost time benefits delays and makes it easier for provider medical bills to be submitted, eliminating a common problem in this three-point contact system. Having the ability to quickly and effectively communicate expectations, such as who is involved and the timeline for care, can reduce stress and anxiety for employees and help them view workers’ compensation as a true benefit and not a punitive process.
Technology is helpful in streamlining the process, but it lacks the human touch we are accustomed to in the claims process. Enter chatbots and smart videos. They are ideal for completing simple administrative tasks, such as setting up appointments or answering easily researchable questions. Smart videos can be used to provide information to the injured worker regarding their claim status, payment and pharmacy information, and more. This not only benefits the employee but also the adjuster, as it frees up time for them and allows their focus to be directed toward more complex matters.
In summary, technology can play a significant role in boosting productivity and efficiency, but the coordination of all the moving parts of the Workers’ Compensation Benefits Process is where it will have the greatest impact. From that perspective, it is critical for employers, adjusters, and employees to continually work in tandem with technology to produce the best possible outcomes.