Making Sure What You Did Stays Done

Workers' comp has begun the crucial move toward data analytics but must do the tedious work of persevering.|

The workers’ compensation industry is often accused of resisting change. Simple observation bears this out, such as how long it has taken the industry to address analytics. Having now put its toe in the water, the industry is still light years behind other industries in implementing analytics. An opportunity can be rather simple, yet taking the necessary steps to achieve it is daunting to many. An executive was once overheard saying of a proposal, “It all makes sense, but we would need to change the way we do things to make it happen.” What is it in the industry culture that causes resistance to change? It may not be the amount of effort required. Analytics are totally dependent on data quality, so if it is inaccurate or incomplete, the analytics are of less value -- a poor trade -- but improving data quality can be intimidating because it is not an IT responsibility. Even when IT can play a part in improving data quality, it is management that must demand it. Sometimes the problem of data quality is the source of the data. Bill review data may not contain all the data fields needed, for instance. Again, only management can address the problem with the vendor organization. Sustaining change A significant amount of the effort needed for change is not so much mobilizing the action but sustaining the initiatives. Change directives must become an integral part of the organization’s process. Management must continually check to see which mandates are carried out and which have slipped. Performance accountability is key. The degree to which a change initiative is successful is positively correlated with management oversight. It is not difficult, but it can be tedious. In this regard, a definition of management is: Good management is continually making sure that what you did stays done. Initiate the change, then follow up to ensure continued practice. The real challenge is to keep doing it. Accurate and complete data is the only affordable and practical resource on the horizon to advance to the next levels of medical management and measureable cost control through analytics. And only management can change data quality.

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