Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's All About Expectations

A theme emerged at the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Educational Association Conference that I just attended in Myrtle Beach, and it is a universal theme that we in the industry deal with daily with mixed results - the job of managing expectations.

Various people from different walks of the industry randomly commented without conscious coordination of their presentations on how much education needs to be a part of the workers' compensation claims process.

And not just education for the injured worker - who of course needs a lot of hand holding through the entire ordeal as that person is thrust into the vast unknown with little say or control over the course of his or her claim life.

Employers need to be educated on how the process deals with the work injury, how important their participation is relative to the injured worker, the physician, the claims administrator and the impact of all of this on their premiums.

The commissioners talked about how expectations of carriers and administrators need to be managed, admitting that what goes on behind closed doors can be mysterious but is really for greater efficiency and management of the litigation.

Vendors providing services need their expectations managed so they can better understand why depositions might be set, or why their bills are going to be challenged.

Politicians think they're implementing one thing but get something different - we seem to see this in every reform that gets to the books.

Even governmental entities contracting with large consulting firms for new computing systems don't get what they think they're paying for.

When it comes to comp, everyone has some expectation which may or may not match reality, and may not match each other's expectations, which creates a whole lot of friction.

These expectations can be exacerbated by the laws that are passed, by the regulations that are promulgated, by the complaints of special interests, by economic factors and ultimately by the social order (and I've been thinking a lot about THAT too).

Communication takes a lot of effort. There are language differences, culture differences, family differences, education differences and many, many more complicating factors that make managing expectations a lot of work.

But that's why we're in this industry - it is our job to educate, communicate and above all manage the expectations of those who we service, be they employer, worker, administrator, judge - whomever.

There's an old saying to which I have no attribution but it is relevant nevertheless: Don't be disappointed with the results you didn't get by the work you didn't do.

Next time you're frustrated with a claim, think about how well you have managed the expectations of the person causing you grief - likely not very well. By the time the frustration arises however, it's a bit too late to manage the expectation, and all you're left with is attempting to manage the outcome, which is decidedly even more difficult.

1 comment:

  1. A few years back I put together what I called the "WorkCover Food Chain" the reason I wrote it was to demonstrate to a Summit just what the workers compensation system actually looks like and where the "food" (cost centres) really is -at least for here in South Australia- what amazed me was the number of employers who pay for the workers compensation system had no idea as to what their levy payments were being spent on and how little of it is actually spent on the injured workers in the system.