ORLANDO, Fla. – Medicine’s role in workers’ compensation is constantly evolving, as newer technologies emerge and change the care of injured workers, panelists said Tuesday at the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s annual Insights Symposium.
During a session on the future of medicine, Dr. Gerry Stanley, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Harvard MedTech, on technological advances in comp, including virtual and augmented reality platforms used to treat injured workers.
“Now we can care for patients in their homes or wherever they live,” said Dr. Stanley.
He said the use of virtual reality in treatment for comp patients became more popular as a result of the pandemic.
“As we move into the future, we will take many lessons from our past,”; he said. “How can we support people in a more holistic way so that we can get the employee outcomes that we want?”
Injured workers who feel isolated benefit from being placed in a virtual world that resembles the real world, increasing their motivation to heal and return to work, said Dr. Stanley.
Virtual reality allows injured workers to transcend the feeling of being a “widget on a board being moved around” in the comp system, he said.
Dr. Michael Choo, chief medical officer of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based medical management services company Paradigm Corp., addressed the common fear that artificial intelligence would replace medical staff.
“I think AI will play a role, but I don’t think it will be any kind of replacement,” said Dr. Choo.
Kenji Saito, president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, said a personal touch will always be needed to promote healthy work outcomes.