December 7, 2014
The Apple/Uber Effect, Coming to Work Comp
by Karen Wolfe
Most in the industry still think of technology as tedious data input and mistrust the output, but a killer app is on its way.
Industry disruptors change the entire industry — often forever — and they are coming to workers’ comp.
Think of Steve Jobs’ invention and Apple’s implementation of the iPod. It turned the music industry on its side. The “smart” iPhone profoundly changed the way we use phones. Land lines have become almost obsolescent and old “Ma Bell” would not recognize the industry. Jobs also disrupted the personal computer industry with the iPad. Sales are down for laptops and portable computers because people rely on the simpler iPad for personal use, for e-reading, for movies and for specific business adaptations. As an example, doctors’ offices now use iPads for data input into EMRs (electronic medical records). iPads and phones even capture credit cards and signatures.
A more recent disruptor is Uber. The car-booking company has seriously disrupted the stodgy taxi industry as people find Uber simpler, quicker and more satisfactory. The company doesn’t even own cars, yet it was recently valued at $40 billion, in the same ballpark as General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, whose market capitalization is $53 billion.
Disruptors in Workers’ Compensation
Everyone agrees workers’ compensation needs updating and improving. Unfortunately, the industry is notoriously resistant to change. What would an industry disruptor create for this industry?
Some say the big change needed is to legislate letting the employer opt-out from state regulated systems. Texas and Oklahoma are the change leaders in that effort. A group of employers is working in other states to bring about similar legislation. If well-executed, these efforts could significantly affect the industry.
To bring about superior, sustainable change, new applications of technology will be required to monitor consistency, quality and compliance across jurisdictions. The technology is available. Now a unique application is needed, one that everyone loves to use!
Loving technology is not a sentiment normally found in workers’ compensation. That is because most still think of technology as tedious data input and mistrust the output. Nevertheless, creative technology could enhance nearly every activity in workers’ compensation.
The ultimate goal in any workers’ compensation endeavor is (should be) to optimize the medical care of injured workers at the lowest possible cost. A successful industry disruptor will apply technology in new ways, thereby improving cost and outcome pathways for injured workers and their employers.
Any industry disruptor technology will encounter resistance in workers’ compensation. However, everyone can contribute to positive industry disruption by simply being open to change. Creative new use of technology will change the way the workers’ compensation world is managed. Industry disruptors will make sure that happen.