WCRI’s annual meeting is coming up at the end of the month in Boston; this conference always delivers a deep dive into key issues facing workers’ comp. The brain trust at WCRI have made several changes to the conference over the last few years, most notably the data on which their research is based is much more current and covers more states.
I spoke with WCRI’s Executive Director, Dr Rick Victor yesterday about the conference and what attendees can expect. Here – paraphrased – is what I learned.
The conference begins with an extensive review of treatment guidelines and unnecessary care, featuring a presentation by Prof. Thomas Wickizer of Ohio State on the evidence of the impact of treatment guidelines. As payers confront growing medical costs and higher utilization, there’s a lot of interest in guidelines. But not all guidelines are created alike, and how they are implemented can be just as significant as how they are developed. When I asked Rick what attendees can expect, he gave a very brief answer: “like the other discussions, evidence.”
What will be especially useful is evidence from both the WC and non WC worlds, and how UR does or does not compliment the guidelines; in addition the plusses and minuses of different approaches will be discussed and compared.
Recent WCRI conferences have included more coverage of external influences on workers’ comp; that continues this year with a discussion between former VT Gov. Howard Dean and Sen Judd Gregg (R NH) about the political dynamics affecting workers comp and healthcare. I asked Dr Victor what led to this expanded focus on external factors.
His response: “In 2008 the world shifted in fundamental ways that affected the lives and fortunes of most Americans. You can’t really address WC effectively without talking about the impact of the financial crisis on people.” He went on to promise not to depress everyone again with another “surprise”, so this year the external factors discussion will focus on solutions. He went on to say “The problems are well understood, so now we need to talk about how to get out of it. Two people with different perspectives but both very thoughtful and experienced will help us understand where the leverage points are in the political process for meaningful change, and provide their prognosis.”
Finally, there will be a thorough discussion of the Opioid Epidemic, focusing on the urgency and scope of the problem both nationally and in workers’ comp. Topics covered will include prescription drug monitoring programs, opioid guidelines, education and prevention, and the treatment of dependency.
The net – this year’s WCRI conference looks to be a don’t miss event. Be there.