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WCRI – Employers weigh in…

Good decision to add three very different employers to the conference; Publix, Disney and Duke University.

[As a Syracuse alum, I thought WCRI could’ve made a better choice than Duke…]

Here’s my quick take…there was a ton of content with which your faithful reporter could not keep up…so apologies for the somewhat disjointed post.

None of the three are doing pre-employment drug testing (except as required by law)

Publix self-administers work compMichele Maffei has over a hundred employees managing the program. Michelle and her colleagues are very involved in the entire process, work diligently to engage with local operations, and focus tightly on return to work. They handle clinical management, claims, and bill review inhouse. RTW is a huge priority; they try to get everyone – even amputees – back to a job at Publix; during Covid a transitional job was checking in folks showing up for vaccination.

Publix identifies the medical providers they want to provide care to their associates and in some cases contracts directly with those providers; “we are very purposeful about what we do.” Oh, and consistent with earlier findings, telemedicine usage has dropped off post-Covid.

Sharon DelGuercio noted Disney can pay above fee schedule if they need to get specific specialties in central Florida to treat associates. Still it can be difficult to ensure ready access. Disney focuses on the full scope of recovery drivers, striving to keep them in their home location, a strong transitional program with over 400 job descriptions.  Disney’s focus is, quoting Sharon; “nobody goes home”

Duke University’s Charles Kyle weighed in on behavioral health, a main focus of the worker’s recovery program. Return to work is also key; as Duke is very de-centralized different units have their own priorities however costs are tracked back to those units.

A recent focus and rising concern among healthcare professionals [Duke has a major medical center as well] is violence, especially gun violence.  Other forms of physical violence seem to have increased as well across both the medical facilities and University operations. Duke has a task force assigned to this and is steadily improving prevention and recovery initiatives for workers injured by violence.

Panelists acknowledged that in general there’s a higher level of violence, a higher level of incivility, they are just meaner than they used to be.

Michele mentioned physician dispensing (PDD) as a key priority; with their operations in Florida this is NOT a surprise.  MDs should not be allowed to give patients drugs as they are not pharmacists.




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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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