Sharing strategies to battle the opioid epidemic

By Brian Wilson, DC, BWC Medical Projects Director

How do we make headway in combating the opioid epidemic? The fact is there are many answers to that question. We’ve learned here in Ohio that tackling this issue must be a collaborative effort, and we can all learn from each other.

I know from my work with the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) that my counterparts in other states feel the same.

The IAIABC is an international association of workers’ comp agencies and industry stakeholders. BWC regularly engages IAIABC and its members, leaders at similar agencies across the country, to discuss policy and regulatory issues that affect the workers’ comp industry. One of those leading issues is the opioid epidemic.

I have the honor of working closely with IAIABC and its executive director, Jennifer Wolf-Horejsh, as a member of its Medical Issues Committee. The committee gathers information on how local and state agencies are managing important issues like the use of formularies, drug educational materials and prescription drug monitoring programs.

In June 2018, Ms. Wolf-Horejsh and I had the privilege of speaking at Ohio’s 2018 Opiate Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Here, we gave a glimpse into preliminary findings of the report to-date and compared Ohio to other states for those who attended.

Most recently, I sat on the Opioid Task Force, a multi-state collaborative effort that recently released the Opioid Policy Inventory a compilation of survey data from 33 states and their responses to the opioid epidemic. The report is a summary of major strategies, including which states are using them, along with links to national resources.

Understanding the incredible reach of this issue, and that everyone with a stake in this crisis can learn from each other, the report provides not just a workers’ compensation perspective, but a collective look at what a variety of local and state agencies are doing. Our goal is to create a dynamic and collaborative conversation starter piece for policy-makers across the country.

This report is important because it allows states to review strategies that are working elsewhere and they may be able to replicate. It could also stimulate fresh ideas. Thanks to all the outstanding committee members whom I served alongside during the development of this document.

I hope you’ll take the time to review the report* and use it as a reference, especially if you’re involved in efforts to ease the impact of this epidemic in your community.

*This is a living report and it will be updated as states report new strategies to the IAIABC.

 

AASCIF 2018: Connecting with industry peers and experts

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

Each year BWC staff participates in the Annual Conference of the American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds (AASCIF).

This year, SFM Mutual Insurance Company hosted the conference in Minneapolis. SFM was a generous host providing educational sessions, informative panels and networking opportunities to the attendees.

BWC staff are involved in AASCIF in many ways. This year four BWC employees were members of AASCIF’s committees tasked with planning session topics and finding speakers.

Michael Rienerth, Ergonomics Technical Advisor, chaired the Safety and Health Committee. Bill Teets, Communications Director was on the Communications Committee. Barb Ingram, Chief Finance Officer was on the Finance and Investment Committee and I was on the Underwriting and Policyholder Services Committee.

Several BWC staff also traveled to the conference to attend sessions on a variety of topics from managing concussion claims to an overview of nationwide workers’ compensation legislation.

Shadya Yazback, BWC Chief of Enterprise Services, said that one session she really enjoyed was Telehealth – A Case Study. In this presentation, Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI), the North Dakota State Fund discussed how they are piloting telemedicine options for a small group of employers. Some areas in North Dakota are very remote, so the pilot utilized technology to engage injured workers’ through telephone calls with triage nurses and follow-up video calls with physicians. The presentation included a live demonstration of a patient exam using the video technology (see photo below).

Shadya commented that she thought the presentation was useful in demonstrating how technological advances have the potential to improve access and quality of care to our injured workers.

I also participated in a panel titled Successfully Recruiting and Retaining the Workers’ Comp NextGen. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Wolf, Executive Director of the International Association of Industrial Accident Board and Commissions (IAIABC). The interactive discussion highlighted the value of hiring and retaining millennial talent and offered ideas such as fellowship programs and career progression paths as ways to get more young people into the industry.

In addition to the educational programming, AASCIF holds an annual Communication Awards competition. I am happy to report that BWC won four awards this year. The awards are:

  • Excellence in Writing: First Place for Saving Lives, Building a Pharmacy Program piece in IAIABC’s Perspectives Magazine
  • Radio/TV Advertising: Second Place for our Guardian Angel 30 second spot
  • Open Category: Second Place for the 2018 Ohio Safety Congress and Expo
  • Print Marketing: Third Place for BWC’s Opioid Infographic.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the conference was when our Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison announced that AASCIF 2019 will be coming to Cleveland, Ohio.

The team at BWC is already hard at work gearing up to host the conference. Cleveland is a beautiful and vibrant city so save the date for July 21 – 24 and plan on joining in 2019.

Making a better Ohio with health and wellness

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Improved health and wellness leads to a better quality of life in all aspects of our lives, including the workplace.

Living a healthy, balanced life can help prevent injury or help workers recover more quickly if they are hurt on the job. That’s why we’re launching Better You, Better Ohio!™ – a program designed to provide health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small Ohio employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries*.

Better You, Better Ohio! takes the stress out of implementing or joining a workplace wellness program thanks to a simple, paperless sign-up process for workers and no costs for the employee or employer. The program offers:

  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training;
  • Health assessments and biometric screenings for better understanding of their health and well-being;
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their goals;
  • A state-of-the art mobile app for creating weekly action plans and getting health tips;
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Why we’re offering Better You, Better Ohio!

Ohio, like much of the nation, is facing major health challenges driven primarily by obesity, aging and the rise in chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes and cardiovascular diseases). As of 2017, Ohio’s health ranking stood at 39th among the 50 states. These health challenges and outcomes are mostly associated with lifestyle behaviors. Individuals can improve these behaviors by using the resources and support services health and wellness programs like Better You, Better Ohio! offer.

Want to know more?

Visit our Better You, Better Ohio! webpage for additional details.

*Agriculture; automotive repair and service; construction; firefighters; health care; manufacturing; police and public safety; public employers; restaurant and food service; transportation and trucking; trash collection; wholesale and retail

Top 5 posts of 2017

It’s been a busy year on the Ohio BWC blog!

In 119 posts, we covered topics ranging from safety during a solar eclipse to preparing for an active aggressor situation. In between were fraud updates and safety tips from our experts.

Thanks to all of our readers, and those who shared our links and left comments!

Here are the posts you read the most in 2017:

  1. Don’t look at the sun and other not-so-obvious tips!
  2. Foul! Bowling coach crosses the line, commits work comp fraud
  3. Don’t be shocked or surprised – use lockout/tagout
  4. Working hard in the yard? Remember these safety tips
  5. Are you prepared for an active aggressor incident?

We’re looking forward to another busy year of blogging in 2018.  For now, we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Sharing insights and achievements in workers’ comp

By Kendra DePaul, BWC Other States Coverage Manager

In workers’ comp, we sure do love our acronyms. One of my favorites is the IAIABC which states for the International Association of Industrial Accident Board and Commission.

The IAIABC is an association that brings together workers’ compensation administrators, regulators and leaders to discuss policy and regulatory issues affecting workers’ compensation systems around the world.

Workers’ compensation is a state-based system and although rules and laws vary between states, we also have a lot in common. IAIABC’s annual convention provided an opportunity for the various states (and countries) to discuss common challenges, solutions and ways to impact the system.

The conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year and it was my first year attending. The topics discussed were familiar to those in the industry, including disability management and return to work, employee vs. independent contractor classification, promotion of health and safety, and the like.

A common topic that often comes up at these meetings is employee recruiting and how we are going to replace the knowledge and experience of many talented workers’ comp staff who may be retiring soon. The focus is often on how jobs in the workers’ compensation field have many good things to offer: stability, career advancement, opportunities for growth, the ability to help people, and the need to recruit millennials.

Since I am a millennial, I will say that all those things ring true and I very much enjoy spending my days in the workers’ comp world. I was honored this year to be recognized by IAIABC as a NextGen recipient.

The award recognizes professionals under the age of 40 who are making an impact on workers’ compensation.

As part of the award, I participated in a session titled A Conversation with the NextGen where we shared our thoughts and insights on the industry.

I had a great time meeting the other NextGen recipients and discussing the future of workers’ comp.

Although we are from different states and work in many different roles, there are common themes of needing to improve communication, leverage data and move towards a customer-focused system. There was agreement that for a lot of people, having a workers’ compensation claim is a very personal and potentially life-altering situation and it is important to not lose the people in the process.

If you’re looking for a career path in an industry on the verge of making important improvements, look no further!

Striving for world class

By Bill Teets, BWC Communications Director

It is no secret that successful organizations have a strong sense of direction and purpose. At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, we want to be a world class insurer.

We have a clear mission to “protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates.” Keep people safe. Make them better when they’re hurt. Do it effectively to not over-burden business. We also have a core set of values—service, simplicity and savings—that guide us.

While these are essential to being world class, they’re not enough. As communications director for BWC, I spend much of my time discovering all the great things happening here and sharing them with the outside world. There are so many stories to tell. Great investing has helped us return $3 billion in rebates over the last several years. Ohio’s injury rates are below the national average and our claims are at record lows. We’re finding ways to speed care to the injured and our nationally recognized pharmacy management program has drastically reduced opioid usage among injured workers.

What I’ve learned from telling these stories is that world class organizations have world class people. Our mission and values may guide us, but ultimately, it is the people that deliver on those promises. Several recent accolades prove my point.

Recently, our Chief of Enterprise Services, Shadya Yazback was named a C-Suite Award Winner by Columbus Business First. In their own words, “the C-Suite Awards recognizes Central Ohio’s top executives for their contribution and commitment to the community and their outstanding professional performance.”

This year’s 19 winners were selected by a panel of business school professors in Ohio. Among her achievements at BWC is the implementation of a multi-year, multi-million dollar replacement of our core claims and policy management systems—systems used by more than half our 1,800 employees to serve Ohio’s injured workers and employers. It was not always a smooth transition, but as the driver of the process she proved world-class people are able to adapt and keep an organization driving toward a common goal.

Kendra DePaul is another example of our world-class staff. Kendra has been named as one of 11 NexGen award winners by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). She achieved this accolade for leading Ohio’s effort to build our Other States Coverage and managing the program. Because of this program, Ohio employers who do business in other states have options that make life easier when it comes to covering their employees.

That same organization awarded our pharmacy department the second annual IAIABC Innovation Award. That entry, “Saving Lives — Building a Model Pharmacy Program Amid a Deadly Epidemic” reflects Ohio’s efforts to reduce opioid abuse and excessive prescribing of the painkillers while building a pharmacy program that’s recognized as a leader in the industry today. Because of the pharmacy department efforts, led by John Hanna, who just retired, we have reduced the number of injured workers dependent on opioids from 8,000 in 2011 to 4,100 today. You can point to policies, but it was John and his people who took the initiative to make this reality.

Three world-class accomplishments. Three world-class people. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At BWC, we have 1,800 other dedicated individuals who work every day to help keep workplaces safe, get the injured back to their lives, and help reduce bureaucratic obstacles to their success. Not a bad place to work.

A year of blogging

The BWC Blog just reached its one year anniversary in October. We launched this blog back in 2015 and named it Prevention & Care to demonstrate our commitment to both preventing workplace injuries and caring for workers who are injured on the job. We’ve enjoyed sharing all the most recent updates from BWC, and helpful information and tips on a range of topics here on the blog in 2016.

Celebrating our first full year, we pulled our most popular blogs and found they cover a range of issues from fraud to safe outdoor grilling. Click through the top five to see our most popular blogs of the year:

  1. Lima business owner conspires with acquaintance to evade workers’ comp coverage
  2. Ohio border no longer a barrier
  3. There is no “all states” endorsement
  4. OSC16 – a look back in photos
  5. Before you start to grill – remember hank hill

Now we invite you to peruse the entire blog for much more you may have missed this year!

Thank you for following the BWC Blog. It’s been a great year and we look forward to digging even deeper into workers’ comp issues here on this blog in 2017.