October/November 2020  Volume 18, Number 5        

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How the Pandemic Is Changing Workers Comp Forever

In response to the crisis, new regulations have been enacted and advances in technology fast-tracked.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been forcing many workers compensation professionals to speed up their adoption of new claims and loss prevention technologies.

Many of the changes developed in response to the crisis are expected to have profound and lasting effects. Here are a few of the changes and trends.

Broader Acceptance of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a technology that allows individuals to get professional advice from providers through a smart phone, tablet or computer.

When patients were discouraged from visiting doctors' offices during the height of the pandemic, the popularity of telemedicine surged.

One Call Care Management Inc., a Jacksonville, Florida-based company that provides physical therapy for injured workers, had expanded its offerings to include online telerehab in 2017. However, the service was "not widely offered by adjustors," they said, as a result of poor perception and "technology barriers".

Thus, until COVID-19 most injured workers continued to rely heavily on One Call's brick-and-mortar facilities for treatment of common workplace injuries, such as those affecting the back, shoulders and knees. Now, One Call's telerehab service has become very popular.

The pandemic has helped to push 5 percent of the population into using some form of telehealth since the outbreak began, translating to approximately 16.5 million new users with 88 percent saying they would it use again, according to One Call.

The aging workforce, defined as those 55 and older, has also been responsive to the option, as they represented 35 percent of recent telerehab adopters, according to One Call.

In another instance of telemedicine's new found acceptance and popularity, prior to the pandemic, Novant Health had been conducting about 200 telemedicine appointments per week. Now that number has leaped to more than 12,000 per week. Even though brick and mortar offices are opening again to provide care, Novant Health reports that the number of virtual visits at its facilities is now about 2,000 per day — and they don't expect that to change anytime soon. Notwithstanding the pandemic, many patients are more comfortable receiving care this way — particularly since they don't have to waste time driving to a visit and sitting in a waiting room.

Another reason for telemedicine's new popularity can be found in the CARES Act, the $130 billion in financial relief allocated to health care operators. The Act relaxes many regulations that formerly constrained the use of telemedicine. Mainly, the federal government now allows doctors to practice telemedicine in states beyond those in which they're licensed.

In addition to telemedicine, the COVID-19 pandemic may leave other lasting impacts on how the workers' compensation industry uses technology. Here are a few additional technologies we expect may also play a bigger role in the industry moving forward.


The pandemic has forced many companies to focus more on remote operations, making the use of mobile apps more important. Mobile apps can be used to help employees make timely reports of on-the-job injuries and facilitate communications with management and medical providers.

The technology publication Telecrunch predicts spending on remote working mobile apps will double by 2024.


Wearables such as heart-rate monitors or step-tracking devices will have a major impact on monitoring employee health, as their use increases from its current share of just 6.5 percent of the workforce, according to Telecrunch. "As a result of the pandemic, we anticipate that wearables may become more popular in the workers' compensation industry than anticipated, as providers explore ways to stay connected with patients remotely."


Many companies are monitoring how the pandemic is affecting their workforce, tracking the return to work process, how health care is being accessed and other metrics. The kind of data analysis being used during the pandemic will surely be adapted to other workers compensation loss prevention tasks in the long run, adding yet another innovation to the technological tool kit.

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In this issue:

This Just In...

Many States Offer Temporary Work Comp Classification Reductions During Pandemic

How the Pandemic Is Changing Workers Comp Forever

How Insurers Calculate Comp Rates

How Losses Get Evened Out to Make Ex. Mods More Accurate



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