Not unlike the rest of the insurance spectrum, the workers’ comp sector adopted technology at a quickened pace during the past year, with 40% of professionals in the space saying COVID-19 pressures and changes were the driving forces, according to a survey by Mitchell International, Inc.
Telemedicine was the most integrated digital tool during the pandemic, with more than half of respondents saying their organization onboarded the technology in the past year. Additionally, 35% said telemedicine will have the biggest impact on workers’ comp in the coming five to 10 years.
Slightly more than one-third of respondents also pointed to predictive analytics as having an outsized impact moving forward. Many said the technology will best be deployed for claims triage, severity and reserving. Mobile is also expected to have a big impact on the sector in the coming decade, Mitchell International reported.
Concerning the most pressing technologies, the recent survey findings deviate slightly from pre-pandemic research. While before COVID telemedicine was still considered the biggest game-changer, prior to the pandemic artificial intelligence was the technology workers’ comp professionals thought would have the second biggest impact. Predictive analytics fell in line behind these two in that earlier survey.
“The workers’ compensation industry has greatly benefitted from technology innovation in recent years, but the need to enable the continuity of care has brought explosive growth in new technology adoption as a result of COVID-19,” Shahin Hatamian, senior vice president of product management at Mitchell, said in a release. “The past year has only reinforced the trends our annual surveys have tracked in recent years, highlighting the rising importance of technologies that can automate manual processes and enable faster and smarter decision making.”
Top challenges in workers’ comp
Unsurprisingly, adapting to changes driven by the pandemic is the biggest challenge workers’ compensation organizations face today, cited by 22% of respondents, with workflow efficiency and cost pressures following.
Other challenges facing the sector are return-to-work time, employee turnover, IT budgets, keeping up with regulatory changes and pharmaceutical management, Mitchell International reported.
“As companies continue to focus on stabilizing and improving their businesses in the coming years, they will be seeking workflow efficiencies and determining ways to lower costs, to help injured employees return to the workforce even quicker,” Hatamian said. “We foresee a continued focus on automation, analytics and workflows to maximize care and improve outcomes.”