Good News is Back!

Well I must apologize for the lack of postings over the past few months.  Starting a new job is exciting (and overwhelming) but I am happy to back on the blog!

I was reminded of the power of people today.  Some of you may recall my blog on Dwight Johnson, an exceptional individual who never let adversity or the challenges in his life set him back.  On the contrary, it made him stronger and a never-ending source of inspiration and delight to those that had the privilege to know him.  Dwight passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, when I heard the news it literally took my breath away.  I did not believe it, but sadly it was true.  Dwight’s spirit carries on however, both in his beautiful family and through a charitable golf event being held on July 17 in his honor (donations & participants needed, please consider!).

I had been pondering whether to continue this blog.  Struggling with the fact that people tend to be more fascinated by “bad” news… good news doesn’t sell… getting our work comp industry to write about all the good has been difficult…l could go on, but you get the point.  Then out of the blue, my company’s marketing team said that our (m)Community (short for Mitchell Community) will be donating to Dwight’s memorial golf tournament!  They remembered Dwight, used my prior blog story to share with the (m)Community and wanted to do something nice in honor of someone who had touched our industry with heart and “soule.”

It was a message from beyond, Dwight still working his magic, my amazing company showing compassion and doing something right…I am not ready to throw in the towel, there is a place for this blog and sharing ALL THE GOOD WE DO IN WORKERS COMPENSATION.

So back to work, this month’s theme is “Random Acts of Kindness” and I hope you will share with me one of your stories for posting.  I am blessed to have convened an amazing Advisory Council of talented folks to help me continue this blogging journey, my sincere gratitude for your kindness!

Dwight, I’m walking with soule, only wished I had you paint me golf shoes instead of high heels then I’d be walking with you a lot more!

Missing 33% Keeping Women from Reaching the Top

The combined forces of the Executive Women in Work Comp and Women in Work Comp were in full swing at this year’s National Workers Compensation & Disability Conference.  The two organizations recently joined together to form “The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation” to talk about women and leadership.

The Alliance is a unique organization bringing together professional women (and men too) in the work comp industry to work together for the common good.  The Alliance’s goal of inclusivity manifests in not only encouraging women and men alike to work together for the advancement of women but with the benefit of industry improvement all around.

For the past three years, the Alliance has hosted the pre-conference event on the Tuesday before NWCDC.  The focus for this year’s event included what women are not told about leadership, what moves women from middle management to the top and developing business, strategic and financial acumen.  Quite an agenda!  And with a packed room of over 400 women, there was certainly a lot of excitement, exchanging and engaging going on!

Nina Smith, General Manager with Mitchell International and an Alliance Board Member, kicked off the event by getting us excited, up and out of our seats, clapping/dancing to some foot-stomping tunes.  It was enlightening to see a respected industry executive like Nina relaxed, having fun.. and still leading!

Next up was the keynote speaker Susan Colantuono, a recognized leadership expert, author, TED Talk extraordinaire and CEO of Leading Women.  If you were unable to attend the Alliance event, at least check out Susan’s TED Talk (click here) which will provide you with some good takeaways.

Susan’s discussion was enlightening:

  • Women are not told the essential skills for moving up, executives look for business, strategic and financial acumen.
  • Women don’t always know how best to speak the language of POWER

EQUALS= what Susan called the “missing 33%” of a woman’s professional background that keeps her from reaching the top.

So what do we do about it? Well that led to the workshop susanportion of the Alliance program, where each table began exchanging dialog on their jobs and practicing speaking the language of power.  Instead of “I feel confident I’m the right person to lead the organization” we practiced using power words such as “I understand the business, I have the cash numbers to talk about what new markets can help fuel our growth, I know our bottom line in terms of what’s needed in ROI and I know our customer…”  It’s a shift from being taught throughout our lives to be strong, confident, assertive, knowledgeable to then speaking the language of a CEO from the business acumen perspective.  It’s an important nuance.

It is no longer enough to understand the business, but women must speak to where the business is headed and her role in getting it there.  As to engaging, here’s where I believe women have a competitive edge that we don’t leverage enough.  We are THE BEST AT ENGAGING!  It’s what we do!  We engage every day from a personal level with family, our community, our faith which is then parlayed into how we interact at work.  Women not only lead, but do so with an engagement experience that sets us apart from men.  Women are great networkers and mentors, it’s in our DNA.  When you combine our natural talents with business acumen, glass ceilings should be blown away.

Leadership is using our own greatness, achieving and sustaining extraordinary outcomes and engaging the greatness in others.  Achieving and sustaining outcomes is the key to advancement, this is the business, strategic, financial acumen necessary to open the door to the top.  We can do this, it’s not only building our confidence but more importantly learning the business for advancement opportunities.

I believe there are already great women leaders in work comp today, I looked around the room and saw many of them there.  Many of them not only exhibit business acumen, but bring their compassion for helping the injured worker, building teams that provide world class service and are constantly trying to improve themselves and their businesses.  I met CEOs, nurse case managers, risk managers, general managers, senior vice presidents…so many in the room, so many that were excited, exchanging and engaging for the betterment of the industry and their businesses.

The Alliance proves that good things can and do happen in our industry.  It was energizing participating in this year’s event, knowing you are a part of a larger network and helping one another work towards professional greatness.  It’s inspiring to know women are not only committed to a career, but dedicated to the work comp profession.  We may not have solved the gender gap in a day, but I can tell you we all left the room with a better understanding of leadership and career success.

The Alliance continues to grow as an organization with local chapter events, pre-networking events at work comp conferences and an Ambassador Program.  For more information, please visit their website at www.allianceofwomen.org.

 

NWCDC Alliance Event Focuses on Closing Leadership Gender Gap

Always a must-attend event, this year’s Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation conference agenda will focus on the leadership gender gap, career success and thinking/speaking like a CEO.  This is the 3rd annual leadership event hosted by the Alliance, a unique organization that brings together an industry of professional women to work together for the common good and for the betterment of the industry overall.

This year’s event features keynote speaker Susan L. Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women, a consulting firm supporting corporate initiatives to advance women and close the leadership gender gap.  For a preview, take a peek at Susan’s TED Talk, very enlightening with over 3 Million views!  Susan will be presenting two sessions at the Alliance event, “Leadership, Career Success and the Missing 33% and Think Like a CEO & Speak the Language of Power.”  Her engagement includes attendee discussion and participation, all are welcome.  The event will occur on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center where the NWCDC is being held.  Click here to register, space is limited.

Good news for not just women, but for men as well to ensure all of us speak the same language!

Comp Laude, Post Elections and the New World

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No sooner had we returned from an uplifting 2 days celebrating Comp Laude, the life well lived of a beloved industry friend Dave DePaolo and all the people that make our work comp industry great, we faced a dramatic election the results of which we will be living with over the next four years.

But first, let’s talk about Comp Laude and may I say it should be required attendance for everyone in this business and here’s why.  Comp Laude reminds us that we simply must do a better job of delivering great service to the client–THE INJURED WORKER.  At the heart of what we all do every single day in workers’ compensation is the care we deliver to a worker after an injury on the job.  I have believed for the most part we do a good job providing appropriate, expedited access to medical care and treatment with return to work paramount.  Comp Laude reminded me we are not without our faults…so what can we do?

Comp Laude offered three session tracks, I attended the Advocacy Based Claims Management track hosted by the Alliance of Women In Workers’ Compensation.  The first theme was “Collaboration” amongst attendees, ensuring an opportunity to go outside your own network of contacts, share ideas and expand our way of thinking.  There were four sessions, the first session focused on the consumer experience driving engagement, using customer satisfaction and KPIs to lead business initiatives, reminding us we are a BENEFIT DELIVERY SYSTEM for an injured worker.  As our industry works harder to attract talent and retain talent, we must make what we do in work comp meaningful and purposeful particularly to attract millennials.

The Fireside Chat was my favorite session and likely the most impactful of the entire conference.  Three injured workers shared their work comp journeys and I can tell you there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  It reminds us that the injured worker is the person we should be advocating for, ensuring we listen to their voices, appreciate how tough it is to be hurt and wondering if you are going to be able to feed your family.  It gives me my “Why,” my passion around why I care so much about this industry, I want to make a difference and have an impact.  Many of you reading this article want the same.  Please remember when you pick up the phone, return an email, create a program, do UR, provide NCM services…at the heart of what you do every day is your client, your customer, the consumer-THE INJURED WORKER.  Treat them the same way you want to be treated.

There were so many other wonderful, poignant moments throughout the conference.  Applauding those individuals and businesses that do great work while they received their Comp Laude Award; hearing from a recipient of the wonderful Kids Chance of CA scholarship & awards program; TED-style talks on good news stories; and lots of sharing together on what we can all do collectively to make our work comp system better.   There are many many many folks doing the best they can to do what’s right.  Perhaps it’s the way I was raised, and the way I’m raising my own daughter, when we treat each other with dignity and respect you can’t help but be a better person and make those around you better too.

Which leads me to the election and its unexpected result, although ultimately not too surprising.  We, the consumers, clients, customers are generally very unhappy with our government.  We voted into the highest office someone we believe can change the delivery system.  Is he perfect?  No.  Are we perfect?  No.  But at the end of the day, I must believe that if we continue to treat one another with dignity and respect, we will be better for it.  There’s too much at stake for this outcome not to work, which is no different in Workers Compensation.

In the meantime, I have my new Gallagher Bassett “Gentle Bear”, a worthy Ambassador of care & compassion and one I’m hugging tightly today as a friendly reminder of all that’s good in the world.

Look for my follow up Good News articles featuring a few of my new friends from Comp Laude and their successes in work comp!

Peace, Karen

Comp Laude Brings Out the Best in Everyone!

There’s a certain enthusiasm in the air when it comes to the Comp Laude event.  I happen to travel quite a bit for work, from client meetings to prospect meetings to industry conferences.. and have done so for years.  I know I know, I’ve been accused of having a glamorous life with all my travel.  But the truth of the matter is that the travel isn’t a vacation, it’s work… and there are expectations that need to be met while spending endless hours stuck in airports or working in your hotel room.  Not to mention time away from family and friends…or golf!

So it is here I sit on the eve of the Comp Laude VIP kickoff party to be followed by 2 days of education, networking, recognition awards, speakers and the like…and frankly I couldn’t be more excited!  Comp Laude was started by a visionary individual, David DePaolo, who’s enthusiasm and passion for life along with his extensive work experience parlayed into his founding of WorkCompCentral, his personal blog stories and his mission to bring forth shining examples of what we do right in this work comp business.

I’m a newbie in the blogging world, it’s uncomfortable to “blog” my own thoughts as if anyone would find them interesting.  David truly had the gift of transforming and acknowledging what we do well in this business, discussing the uncomfortable stuff of what we could do better, then honoring those that get it right.  Comp Laude and David’s legacy are all about making a difference.

I hope my blog will carry on that tradition, of making a difference, of featuring stories from injured workers to the many industry contributors aiding in their recovery and return to work.  Please help me by sharing your Good News Stories, I know there are a lot of you helping injured workers every single day.

By the way, I’m wearing my new kicks, courtesy of SOULE INNOVATIONS!  I can’t wait to share Dwight’s story with you and how his cool shoes are transforming the lives of amputees!

Cheers to you David & Dwight!

Karen, the GoodNewsGalshoes

Major Insurer Removes Barriers to Addiction Treatment

Health insurer Cigna announced last week it has discontinued its policy of requiring docs to seek pre-authorization and approval before treating opioid addicts.  This is GREAT news for many suffering from dependency and addiction to these dangerous drugs.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made the CIGNA announcement and has been a leading proponent on the opioid abuse front.  Schneiderman’s passion and conviction fighting this epidemic led to the passage of NY’s I-STOP legislation.  That legislation also included a provision to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance, the first state to do so with the Federal government following suit shortly thereafter.

Lawmakers across this nation are seeking ways to stem the epidemic.  Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval held a 2-day Prescription Drug Summit comprised of key stakeholders that included medical and pharmacy state boards, law enforcement and policy makers.  As part of the pre-planning session, Governor Sandoval also asked two recovering addicts to discuss their stories…their presentations were moving and powerful.  Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin has been recognized for his efforts confronting opioid addiction by making naxolone more widely available to law enforcement & EMS, and strengthening its PDMP as a tool to promote appropriate use of controlled substances and deter misuse.

California’s SB482 is now law and requires a prescribing health care practitioner to consult the CURES prescription drug monitoring database to review a patient’s controlled substance history prior to prescribing any Sch II, III or IV controlled substance, with limited exceptions.  What remains to be seen is when this mandate will go into effect and enforcement of this provision, but certainly another step in the right direction on controlling opioid utilization.

What makes the Cigna announcement so significant is that Cigna likely understands the potential for dollars saved, but made a moral judgment to try to save lives as well.  I would be surprised if Cigna did not investigate the continued costs of paying for health care for struggling addicts (higher ER visits, continued costs of prescribed opioids, co-morbidities from long term use) over the cost for treating opioid addiction then determined it made economic sense to get people into treatment.  However, the bigger message here is that all insurers, including workers’ compensation payers, should follow suit and remove barriers to allow expedited access to addiction treatment.  You see, when an addict finds a moment of clarity and asks for help, that door only opens for so long…waiting days for authorization may likely cause it to close permanently.

Work comp payers, unwittingly, may have helped to create an opioid dependent population of disabled workers…shouldn’t we have a moral and financial obligation as well to provide a pathway for treatment of addiction?  Treating addiction is complex and difficult, there’s no simple solution, but not trying is a failure on our part.  Removing barriers to treatment is the right thing to do, clearly Cigna agrees.

 

Let’s Raise Our GoodNews Voices!

The Department of Labor (DOL) released a 43-page report titled “Does the Workers’ Compensation System Fulfill its Obligation to Injured Workers” discussed in a forum this week.  The report concludes that only a fraction of benefits are received by injured workers.  I simply must scratch my head and wonder about the “research” and “investigation” that was done by the DOL.

Every single day, across our great nation, there are examiners, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, diagnostics, hospitals, occ health clinics and many more delivering care to injured workers.  At the CWCRC ’16 conference, there are injured worker testimonials as part of the sessions and many partners in the work comp system with stories of successful RTW for injured workers.  It’s not that we don’t talk about the worst outcome cases, we do, those are the toughest.  It’s that so much of what we do, we do right..and I don’t know about you, but I’m not typically one to brag about what I do right.

Let’s flip the focus, let’s ensure our voices are heard, let’s fill the pages of GoodNewsWorkComp with stories we are proud of, where we have had an impact in improving care, where we went the extra mile all too often to ensure an injured worker got the great care he/she deserves.  Don’t let the DOL bully pulpit bring us down, let’s bring each other up and shine.  No one wants a federally run system of work comp care, but without your voices, we could be singing to an empty row of pews.

THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD…

Over the years we have all heard our share of “horror” stories of work comp claims gone bad…injured worker receiving delayed treatment, injured workers denied treatment, injured worker disabled, or worse dead…and the payers or TPAs or employer are to blame, etc, etc, etc.  Not to mention the press tends to favor & sensationalize negative stories over featuring or highlighting good ones.

Hence part of the impetus behind this personal blog, a space to share our good news stories, stories of claims that have resulted in great outcomes. Stories of employers that went the extra mile to ensure the injured worker received the best care and the best possible outcome. Payers that broke with tradition and changed a practice that may have cost more…but ultimately benefited the covered worker.

The other impetus behind the blog is the spirit of David DePaolo. Like so many of you, I was touched by his passion, enthusiasm and dedication to our industry and will sorely miss seeing him as well as reading his ruminations on business and life.

Many of us have been involved in workers compensation for decades. We are passionate about ensuring good claims management philosophy including appropriate care leading to the best outcome with a focus on early return to work. We work hard to ensure injured workers are well-informed and educated on their claim and treatment, that the delivery and responsiveness is timely and finally that all touch points in the system are aligned towards successfully returning the injured worker back to work.

Let’s show everyone what we are doing well and for the RIGHT REASONS! Please contact me if you have a Good News Work Comp Story or even a best practice you’d like the world to see. Injured Workers’ personal testimonials would be awesome. I happen to believe there are many more good news stories than those that grab headlines, join me in flipping the focus!

Your Good News Girl in Work Comp,

Karen