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Legacy claims system inhibits the use of communication technology



The work compensation industry's older injury management system is holding back a widespread use of newer technology to improve communication with injured workers, experts say.

According to a survey of 337 industry leaders released on August 18, 43% of workers' compensation management organizations by 2020 reported "no implementation of tools to improve damaged work communication." This is despite previous calls from claims managers to improve communication with injured workers, according to the annual survey conducted by Chicago-based Rising Medical Solutions, which relies on an advisory board of 18 workers to develop its annual studies.

In the 2019 survey, 90% of 1

,800 frontline managers surveyed said they needed more tools to perform their jobs efficiently; and 34% said they need better tools to communicate with injured workers and other claims.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, "with multiple communication barriers, a more flexible customer experience strategy is needed to communicate effectively with stakeholders," according to Rise's 2020 report . The 2020 survey showed a delay in the use of tools: only 36% of organizations use text messaging; 27% of organizations have implemented a website or damaged worker portal; and 26% use mobile apps to communicate with injured workers.

With “some of these innovations out there, I think the problem is that technological change has gone incredibly fast; it has surpassed the carrier's ability to modernize its older systems, says Jeanette Ward, Austin-based chief operating officer of Texas Mutual Insurance Co., who three years ago launched an app for injured workers to access their information.

Ms. Ward said insurance companies have an opportunity to make better use of technology but "it's harder and more expensive to integrate this technology with our older systems."

Rising CEO and President Jason Beans wrote in an email that investment in technology has been hampered by several factors, including "ever-increasing regulations and internal compliance requirements."

"The lack of technology investment was exacerbated by the pandemic – when many organizations had to shift their technical resources to basic survival, he wrote.

Mr Beans said that old technology is often difficult to update or change.

" "Investing in newer technologies often means a step backwards to move forward. Existing features and efficiencies need to be recreated," he says, adding that companies often avoid or delay the "inevitable pain" of upgrades or conversions. Significant commitment, says Denise Algire, Pleasanton , California-based grocery chain risk manager Albertsons Cos. LLC, who sits on Rising & # 39 ;s Research Advisory Board.

For example, all communications with an injured worker must be "Captured" by an insurance company or administrator system, which may do not have the ability to incorporate advanced communication methods, such as texts or communication via e n app, sade Algire.

"Some of the limitations are mainly driven by the lack of older claims systems to have this capability," she says, adding that the development and availability of third-party apps makes the task easier for claims handlers.

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