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Broadspire Services Inc. is an Atlanta-based unit of Crawford & Co., a third-party administrator that provides workers compensation and liability claim and medical management services. Broadspire President and CEO Danielle Lisenbey spoke recently with Business Insurance Reporter Joyce Famakinwa about trends in the workers comp market, the opioid epidemic and how Broadspire is helping treat workers with opioid addiction. Edited excerpts follow.
Q: What are some trends you are seeing in the workers compensation market?
A: It appears that the labor market has been holding steady. And because the workers compensation market is extensively tied to the labor market, it’s a trend that has been interesting to watch.
From a claims administrative perspective, underwriting has had strong results since 2011, with premiums growing for five years in a row. In response, companies and organizations have sought to offset some of those increases that they’re seeing from a total loss cost package.
Claim frequency appears to be trending down, while medical costs severity still appears to be on the rise. But as medical costs continue to rise from a total health care perspective, workers compensation is also continuing to experience those trends as well.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that Broadspire is facing right now?
A: Getting millennials or that early career group interested in our industry is definitely a challenge. Getting clients to understand the overarching issue, that there are a lot of baby boomers retiring, and we need to bring that next generation into the fold.
Q: Have there been outreach plans to recruit younger people at Broadspire?
A: We started partnering with an organization called GradStaff that will bring graduates in through kind of a temp model, and we tied it into a program we called Claim Specialists. We also started an internship program where we bring in (college) freshmen and sophomores to try to get them early before they even know what they want to do when they graduate, and they come back year after year at summers and Christmas breaks, and they work with us in various departments.
And then it’s also doing the tours at the colleges. And I’m not talking just with the risk management majors. We really have to go after liberal arts, criminal justice, business management (and) marketing majors who might not quite know what industry they fit in and introduce to them our industry.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges in the TPA space right now?
A: It’s the traditional thinking. We need to make sure our clients understand that we have to evolve. TPAs have to evolve. The cost structure is just going to continue to go up, and so we have to mitigate some of that cost structure to be able to pass some of the savings to our clients. And that’s doing things through technology, and that’s doing things from a digital perspective, mobile, all that kind of good stuff. I think that’s a challenge for all of us, that we need to evolve as fast as technology’s evolving.
Q: What are clients struggling with when it comes to managing their claims, and why?
A: The biggest struggle we’re seeing is with risk management groups getting a lot of pressure from their organizations to do more with less. In response, they are having to either be more creative or become more reliant on their carrier or claim partners. Large risk management departments are becoming a thing of the past and need to become more datacentric.
Q: How is the opioid epidemic affecting people in terms of workers comp? How is Broadspire helping treat workers with addiction?
A: The opioid epidemic is something that is not going away any time soon. It continues to be a growing trend and is something that we need to keep our eyes on. There currently is no evidence of any long-term opioid therapy achieving and sustaining pain relief. In response, Broadspire has implemented a comprehensive program called CAMP — Comprehensive Assessment and Management of Pain — which has an opioid component or narcotic intervention component, because there’s more to it than just the opioids. Other components include chronic pain, different drug monitoring tools and cognitive behavior therapy. Overall, CAMP can attack things from a different angle or multiple angles, depending on the injured worker and what they’re going through. We quickly figured out that a single-threaded approach just doesn’t work.
Q: Is there more that can be done with regard to keeping costs down for injured workers?
A: I think earlier intervention is still key — knowing the psychosocial makeup of the injured worker to help really facilitate what the right service is at the right time. Using data on an individual level of the injured worker to identify any trends, to help better customize any kind of programs.
John W. Ruser is the president and CEO of the Workers Compensation Research Institute, an independent, nonprofit research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to his designation as president in January, he held the position of executive director when he joined the organization in May 2015. Mr. Ruser has also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Ruser recently spoke with Business Insurance Staff Reporter Donna Mahoney about his goals and the WCRI's efforts to bring useful information to the workers compensation community. Edited excerpts follow.