One thing you can always count on with the New York workers’ compensation insurance system is change. Major reforms were enacted in 2007, and last year the state’s 2017 budget included some of the biggest changes since 2007.
But legislative reforms aren’t the only forces affecting your workers’ compensation program. Advances in technology are changing the game by improving safety, productivity, and efficiency in the workplace; improving medical treatment; and making the claims handling process more efficient. In other words, tech is huge in workers’ comp, with the potential to reduce your costs significantly.
Here are five tech trends employers should keep an eye on:
- Robotics. Robots have been a part of the workplace since the ’60s, but in workers’ comp? Absolutely. For example, a prototype in Singapore is giving therapeutic massages and collecting data that can be used to monitor progress and adjust treatment accordingly. Robotic exoskeletons are helping manufacturing employees work for prolonged periods of time with less effort and fatigue. Robotic medication dispensing systems are helping pharmacies eliminate medication errors and incidences of adverse drug effects. And automation is taking over the clerical aspects of claims handling in many insurance companies, enhancing speed, accuracy, transparency, and service. All of these advancements are boosting workers’ compensation efficiency and outcomes while reducing costs.
- Motion capture technology. Who ever thought technology used in filmmaking and digital gaming would find its way into the workers’ comp arena? But today’s ergonomists, instead of eyeballing a worker’s movements and guessing on ergonomic improvements, can use motion capture technology to show a likeness of a worker’s skeleton and real-time movements on a computer screen, providing precise data about posture, capabilities, and limitations. This can mean fewer injuries, better treatment plans, shorter recovery times, and reduced costs.
- Artificial intelligence. This is another area that’s probably not top of mind when you think about workers’ compensation. But among other capabilities, AI systems are being used to read medical records, analyze and interpret data, and calculate payouts to injured workers and policyholders, resulting in improved efficiency and lower costs.
- Wearables. Wearables technology can now be found in manufacturing operations, construction sites, research labs, and offices. We have smart watches and Google glass. There are fabrics that can measure heart rate and other vital signs to indicate stress. Pressure-sensitive hard hats can now detect concussions. Other devices will alert workers to poor posture, monitor air quality, and measure hydration levels. These devices can potentially reduce workplace accidents and injuries, speed up an injured worker’s recovery time, reduce time off work, and reduce workers’ comp costs.
- Telemedicine. Though no longer a new concept, telemedicine is evolving to encompass more comprehensive healthcare services including physical therapy, patient monitoring, behavioral health, pain management, and new hire baseline testing. And with evolving technology, what began as a convenient phone-in medical service now encompasses video, artificial intelligence, smartphone apps, and chatbots. These interactive formats can streamline the process for injured workers, boost efficiency, and reduce costs. And who wouldn’t prefer a $50 telemedicine bill on a claim to a $1,000 or more emergency room bill?
Stay plugged in
It’s a brave new world out there, and the workers’ compensation industry is always looking to new technologies to improve medical care and outcomes for injured workers, make the claims handling process more efficient, reduce fraud, and cut costs. So it pays to keep an eye on trends in the tech world and how they might affect your workers’ compensation program.
Need help navigating the changing workers’ compensation landscape? See the New York workers’ compensation insurance professionals at BNC Agency.