Insight, analysis & opinion from Joe Paduda

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Mar
1

One Call is shrinking

Reports from multiple sources indicate OCCM has just announced a significant “reduction in force” – i.e. a staff layoff. While this is by no means OCCM’s first staff reduction, initial indications are it is not a small one.

Internal sources indicate the Parsippany NJ office is the one most affected. Staff there do scheduling and care management functions, interact with adjusters, case managers, claimants and providers. Unconfirmed reports indicate work is being off-shored to the Philippines; One Call has previously offshored other functions.

I have reached out to OCCM multiple times and once again they are unresponsive.

Sigh. Free consulting advice – Management should stop obsessing on how I know this stuff before it is public and focus on running their business instead. Oh, and get a lot smarter about damage control.

I would hazard a guess that this is the next step in a series of cost saving measures, underway in an apparent effort to reduce expenses and cash outlays. While the offshoring will almost certainly have a positive effect on operating costs, it remains to be seen whether customers, used to talking with domestic service staff, will accept the change.

And therein lies the rub.

In work comp services it is all about customer service. Adjusters and case managers can be demanding – as they have every right to be. They want to talk with people who thoroughly understand their business, know the rules and regulations in their states, are highly trained, have all the necessary information at their fingertips, and have local knowledge.

They don’t want to call one person for billing and another for network details, a third for an update on the patient’s condition, and yet another for prior auth. And they want that person to communicate crisply.

This may all be solved when OCCM’s new Polaris IT application is fully developed and rolled out. Talking to a very large customer earlier this week, I heard the latest news is it will go live for them “this summer.”

Perhaps.

It is possible that adjusters and case managers will find their needs met by the new IT system and a staff half a world away. It is also highly likely those front-end clients will miss the people who worked with them over the years on multiple cases, understood their needs and requirements, and worked to meet them.

I’m reminded of the time I called a hotel chain for a room in Austin TX. The customer service rep, a gentlemen located on another continent, apologized as no rooms were available in their Austin hotel, but proceeded to book me in their Dallas property. He could not seem to grasp that this was not a viable option.

These are tough times for the folks losing their jobs, and I hope they can find good, stable, rewarding and fulfilling jobs soon.


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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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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