Barry Thompson, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership



Barry Thompson

Barry Thompson

Barry Thompson is a 35-year-plus industry veteran with roots in a 1982 claim adjusting desk and branches bearing the fruit of a career focus on improving workers’ compensation.

Emerging from leadership roles at Aon and Deloitte, in 2002 he founded Risk Acuity, which remains an independent consultancy focused on workers’ compensation.

His expert perspective transcends status quo to build highly effective employer-centered programs.

Recent Articles by Barry Thompson

Insurtech Needs a Legislative Framework

If the workers’ comp industry is serious about leveraging analytics and technology, then we need to create an innovation-friendly legislative framework. A consortium of major corporate players and industry groups should design, promote and lobby for high-level legislative clarifications suitable for all jurisdictions. This will open fertile ground for better and faster innovation. I hereby […]

AI for WC Claims: Humble Pie in the Sky

Let’s slice pie from the sky and seriously consider AI’s role in workers’ compensation claims. First, admit that an end-to-end AI solution is impossible. WC does not provide a dispassionate linear process ripe for automation. Flow-charts or fishbone diagrams cannot codify WC claim contingencies. Rather, we must account for WC’s disparate interests and human unpredictability […]

I Got 99 Problems, but a Glitch Ain’t One

I have taken some time to review notes from the Workers’ Comp Roundtable 2016 WC Summit. The laundry list of glitches and gripes is bountiful with few surprises. Although the notes themselves do little to move the needle, they clearly show where the needle points. The collected bulk of issues contributed from various corners illuminate […]

What Comes After Big Data?

The force of transformation in our technological age is undeniable, unpredictable, rapid and without controls to slow or stop. No industry can freeze a convenient moment in time when its commodity has high value that is safe from competitive disruption and in perfect alignment with technology. Any and every business can be blindsided by a […]

Wanted: Workers’ Comp ‘Warriors’

Employers need to define and fortify the position of workers’ comp manager. It is a sad reality that this job often falls short of the impact and respect it deserves. It owns no distinct professional standard as compared with the role of risk manager, HR manager, safety engineer or even production supervisor, and the role […]

A Child’s View of Workers’ Comp

Step back and consider how simple workers’ comp should be. If every professional from all corners of our industry took time away from their narrow daily focus and considered the big picture in general terms, we might all experience a collective re-setting of the communal respect we should carry for the essence of workers’ comp’s […]

How to Avoid Work Comp ‘Fact-cidents’

Every workers’ compensation claim is not preventable, when you consider that some are deliberate. With due respect to the art and science of safety, preventing real physical accidents and repetitive traumas is essential. However, we also need to be mindful of and prepared for the non-accident accident. Let us refer to these situations as “fact-cidents” […]

Electronic Health Records Hurt Care

Patient care as we know and expect it will diminish because of electronic health records (EHR) requirements. Society will suffer a slow degradation of artful interactive provider attention in deference to “data-field” medicine. I am not simply referring to the very real and challenging issues in the technical application of EHR systems. Rather, I point […]

7 Ways to a Better Work Comp Plan

Although some improvements in workers’ compensation claim results require large investments, resources and complex implementation phases, others require more commitment than dollar investment and are simple in execution yet sublime in positive impact. The seven suggestions that follow are field-tested and proven effective. These seven will not only improve the results of your work comp program […]

Promoting Peace of Mind in Work Comp

An employee’s peace of mind is equal in concern with the physical injury when it comes to a worker’s comp claim. An upset employee can lose motivation, incur a bad attitude and rationalize the over-use or abuse of WC benefits. I am adamant that employee satisfaction is as key a factor in WC claim outcomes […]

The Best of Claims, the Worst of Claims

It was the best of claims; it was the worst of claims… the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness… belief vs. incredulity… hope vs. despair… etc., etc. The iconic opening paragraph from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities makes one realize such conflicts do exist in the same space and time, albeit through different […]

Managed Care Isn’t Managed or Care

It is time to get angry. I plead with you all to recognize the king’s new clothes as he stands indignantly naked between the 300-pound gorilla and the elephant in this room called workers’ compensation. I am hereby calling out an industry that has turned “managed care” into “manipulated cost,” with a shameful lack of […]

How Medicare Can Heal Workers’ Comp

Workers’ comp in every state should carve out its medical line and relinquish it to Medicare. The respective statutory systems for indemnity benefits would remain. This scenario, albeit challenging in execution, would correct the cause of many systemic workers’ comp ills. First, we must admit that the root of most WC problems lies in the […]

Analytics: Predictions Vs. Presumptions

Plaintiff lawyers can teach us something about the limits of predictive modeling when it comes to workers’ comp claims processing. Simply stated, it is better to presume than to predict. Lawyer advertisements blatantly tap the mindset that employers, insurance companies and adjusters cannot be trusted to pay benefits. Notice that the advertisements do not have […]

Electrodiagnostics: a More Powerful FCE?

My recent post on functional capacity exams (FCEs) is a great lead-in to considering another level of related technology. Let’s explore electrodiagnostics as arguably a more powerful arrival in functional exams. First, let’s recap what quality means in a functional capacity exam: An FCE requires a process that is objective and consistent with the proper […]

End the Dysfunction in Functional Exams

Functional capacity exams (FCEs) are in dire need of quality standards. Employers who want better workers’ compensation claim results must take the lead. The FCE is intended to objectively test a patient’s thresholds of pain, strength and movement. An FCE should play a major role in things like qualifying a claimant to return to work, […]

A Smell Test for Wellness Programs

Here is a wellness needs analysis to help you choose the best approach for your company. It is based on wording, definitions, regulations and related government proposals from the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services and other ACA-related government writings easily found via Google. This serves to set a high-level framework — […]

Did the Work Comp Nurse Make It Worse?

Case management nurses can unwittingly hinder the control of workers’ comp claims. Consider the perfect storm of “assumptions” leading to disaster: An adjuster receives a claim requiring extended treatment, makes the standard screen-clicks to assign a nurse and logs the claim in the diary. The employer assumes the case is being scrutinized and treatment is […]

Claims Industry Has Lots to Answer for

The 2014 WC Benchmarking Study by Rising Medical Solutions depicts a claims industry with nowhere to hide and a lot to answer for. This very detailed and intelligent survey deserves some serious attention. The survey is particularly revealing because it boldly juxtaposes four critical topics rather than focus on a single issue. The covered topics […]

To Hellness With Wellness

It seems the only people made “well” from corporate wellness programs are those who collect $6 billion in annual costs. Still, all is not lost. If we use the most basic workings of human nature as a guide we can salvage a more reasonable realm for the notion of employer-sponsored “wellness.” Corporate wellness is seriously […]

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