Previous claims methods are hindering the introduction of communication expertise – business insurance

The workers' compensation industry's older claims management systems are hindering the widespread adoption of new technologies designed to improve communication with injured workers, experts say.

According to a survey of 337 industry leaders published on August 18, 43% of claims management organizations reported "not implementing tools to improve communications for injured workers" in 2020. This is despite previous claims handlers' requests to improve communication with injured workers, according to the annual survey by Chicago-based Rising Medical Solutions, which relies on an advisory board of 18 industry workers to develop its annual studies.

In the 2019 survey, 90% of the 1,800 frontline claims handlers surveyed said they needed more tools to get their jobs done effectively. and 34% said they need better tools to communicate with injured workers and other stakeholders.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, "with multiple communication barriers, a more flexible customer experience strategy is needed to effectively communicate with stakeholders," according to the 2020 Rising Report. The 2020 survey showed a delay in tool use: only 36% of businesses use text messaging; 27% of organizations have a website or portal for injured workers; and 26% use mobile apps to communicate with injured workers.

With “some of these innovations out there, I think the problem is that the technology change has been incredibly fast; It has surpassed the freight forwarder's ability to modernize their legacy systems, ”said Jeanette Ward, chief operating officer of Texas Mutual Insurance Co., based in Austin, which launched an injured worker app three years ago to access their Access information.

Ms. Ward said there are opportunities for insurers to make better use of technology, but "it is more difficult and costly to incorporate these technologies into our older systems".

Aspiring CEO and President Jason Beans wrote in an email that several factors have hindered investments in technology, including "ever increasing regulatory and internal compliance requirements."

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

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

“Investing in newer technologies often means taking a step back in order to move forward. Existing functionality and efficiency need to be restored, ”he said, adding that organizations often avoid or delay the“ inevitable pain ”of upgrades or conversions.

While the industry has been keen to develop new strategies, changing a claims system is a significant endeavor, said Denise Algire, Pleasanton, Calif., Director of risk initiatives for the Albertsons Cos grocery chain. LLC who sits on Rising's Advisory Board for the series of polls.

For example, any communication with an injured worker must be "caught" by an insurer's or administrator's system that may not be able to incorporate advanced communication methods such as texting or communicating through an app, Ms. Algire said.

"Some of the limitations are primarily caused by the lack of legacy claims systems that have this capability," she said, adding that the development and availability of third-party apps make the task easier for claims handlers.

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