Monday, April 25, 2011

Let the Market Give EAMS Wings!

On Friday I was interviewed by representatives of the California Commission on Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) who have been commissioned by the state legislature to do a review and make recommendations on the future of the Division of Workers' Compensation's Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).

It's easy to bash EAMS - there are known problems not only with the technology but also with the roll out and implementation of the system.

But these are to be expected in a system that has relied upon only paper for nearly 100 years and has processes, and participants, so deeply embedded in an analog system. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither can a change so radically different from established procedures, such as electronic court filing, be expected to be functionally perfect until the system has been used and developed over time.

Everyone that is involved in EAMS knows what the problems are, but what about the positive aspects of EAMS? Let me list them:

  1. Electronic filing is here to stay - I don't really care what is good or bad about EAMS, it is going to be the architecture we have been assigned, so get used to it because it is not going away!
  2. EAMS gets your documents into a case file NOW. I'm sure most of you remember hand filing paper at the Board, and if you wanted to ensure your paper went into the file you had to retrieve the file from the file storage (if it was there), take it to the clerk, get the paper date stamped, etc. etc. etc. What a burden that was, especially at the more busy Boards such as LA or Van Nuys.
  3. If you have an EAMS account you can get much more information about your case than ever before, instantly.
  4. Get hearing dates NOW! Regular hearing requests provide the user with a number of dates available - now you can tailor your appearances around YOUR schedule. This is a huge productivity advance for case participants!
  5. See filed documents as the Board sees them and/or confirm that your documents are in the system with just a few keystrokes on an Internet connected computer.
So what was on my wish list that I conveyed to the interviewers?

  1. A Software Development Kit (SDK) for third party vendor providers, such as DWC Direct (WorkCompCentral is a partner in that company) - this would allow vendors to bring to the market new innovations and solutions in a much more rapid method than is currently available;
  2. On a related note, some "backdoor" availability for third party developers to test and launch products without requiring too much of DWC staff and resources;
  3. Eliminate OCR forms now - OCR forms have clogged the system and are a crutch for those who don't want to commit to electronic filing in my opinion (albeit they are necessary presently because of limited licenses - but vendors such as DWC Direct can assist with this limitation);
  4. Ability to retrieve case data for our customers via EAMS.
I'm sure there are more, detail oriented, wish list items, but this is the big picture.

Electronic case management on a wide-area network basis is here to stay. Making EAMS work best will require the private market to develop new technologies to bring the future to life. Private enterprise is simply better at addressing market concerns than is government. 

DWC brought EAMS to life , now it's time to let the private market give it wings!

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