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When Jarrod Magan writes about the future of worker's compensation, he sounds more like a science-fiction writer: Software robots will respond to claimant's calls. Virtual assistants will process paperwork. Doctors, advocates, and patients will meet using personal avatars.
It's not like Magan is inventing the future; it's more like he's already been there. He says that current technologies are evolving and completely changing the administration of worker's compensation.
"Once thought to be cold and impersonal, technology is re-defining our expectations and how we view a quality customer experience," he says. "It is no surprise that new technologies are also reshaping workers' compensation as we know it."
Big Brother Is a Robot Doctor
Featured on WorkCompWire, Magan is one of many experts who foresee changes coming to worker's compensation. New tech will affect advocacy, case management, filling prescriptions, health records, doctors' appointments and other areas, including monitoring workers' health on and off-the-job.
"As more sensors are embedded into everyday items such as clothing, shoes, and hats, the Internet of Things will provide increasingly new ways to monitor activity, recovery and appointment progress for employees off of work," he says.
Tom Ryan, market research leader for Marsh's Workers Compensation Center of Excellence, said wearable technology is already having an impact. Wearables monitor employee movements and alert co-workers of danger, as well as monitor fatigue, body temperature and repetitive motion.
The information can also be used in training, fraud prevention and wellness programs, Ryan said.
No Waiting in the Virtual Room
Donna Sides, senior insurance manager and workers' compensation supervisor with Bank of America, said technology has already improved workers' compensation programs.
She said the bank implemented a telenursing program, which allows injured workers to talk to a registered nurse and directly report a claim around the clock. The nurse takes the worker's information, uploads it to the claims system and recommends or refers treatment at a local facility during the same call. Sides said telemedicine has resulted in fewer claims and lower costs.
Because of the mandate that employers have workers compensation, legal service providers and technology companies are seizing the opportunity and pushing the futuristic changes. According to the industry reports, investors are focusing on wearables.
Target already uses activity and sleep tracking devices to promote healthy habits among workers, and experts say more employers are showing an interest in using wearables to prevent occupational injuries.