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The WCRI Conference – what to expect

Following close on the heels of the National Work Comp Conference is the annual educational get-together put on by the Workers Comp Research Institute in Boston. This year marks the 28th (or perhaps 29th) edition; the agenda reflects how this industry has evolved over those three decades.
I caught up with WCRI Executive Director Rick Victor yesterday to discuss the conference and get a bit more detail on what’s going to be shared with attendees.
MCM – What are the goals of the conference?
Rick – We are focused on most important issues e.g. narcotics, use and cost of medications, and other cost drivers. We want attendees to come away with hard evidence of the nature of problem and information about solutions, including hard data on their effectiveness.
MCM – Any changes this year from past?
Rick – The format continues to evolve; it is a pretty robust mix of research and includes practitioners who don’t always agree with each other or with WCRI. We think it is important to not stack the deck.
MCM – The agenda has a strong focus on pharma – why and what’s driving it?
Rick – We try to align our research agenda with very important national issues like abuse and diversion of narcotics; as you know this far transcends WC and is a national public health crisis. Public policies about pharmaceuticals in WC are about 10 years behind medical policies and medical utilization, and this needs to change.
Some of the actions that public officials have taken about narcotics are not very well informed and not very sophisticated; there ought to be good opportunities to address this issue, if they have good info to make good decisions. Moreover, public decisions don’t make it easy for payers to get into they need to identify abuse and diversion; our research might help public officials to make better decision about what tools are appropriate.
MCM – There’s a session re hospital expense – what will we learn?
Rick – We see in WCRI’s CompScope(r) benchmarking that in a majority of states hospital costs are a bigger driver than non-hospital costs. Hospital price regulation is an area that is elusive for public officials and we would like to bring a bit more light to that. We’ve developed a new tool that will be unveiled at meeting, a hospital cost index, that will make meaningful and interesting comparisons among and between states.
MCM – I note there’s a surprise ending to this year’s conference – What’s the surprise?
Rick – It’s a big issue, an ‘elephant’. Elephants are big and can be nasty, and we want to help show how you might step out of the way when the charge is occurring. We will focus on an issue that is significantly under appreciated, hopefully to move it higher on the radar screen.
You can register for the Conference here.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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