As I reflect on 2021, one heroic story stood out to me more than any other. The NBC Nightly Newsheadline read: Nebraska Teen Runner helps the contestant finish the race after he collapses, giving up his own hopes of qualifying. A high school track star, Brandon Schutt, was competing to qualify for a state championship. However, halfway through the race, Schutt realized he couldn’t achieve that goal and slowed his pace. At the same time, pushing hard to beat his personal best, second Blake Cerveny’s legs began to cramp. Less than 100 meters from the finish, Cerveny’s legs give out. As he collapsed, Schutt was by his side. Schutt lifted Cerveny to his feet, providing physical support, and the two runners crossed the finish line together.
While researching for this blog, I was surprised to find many similar stories in 2021. The runners of the New York City Marathon, a college in Georgia, the World Championships in Athletics and the Tokyo Olympics have all helped fallen competitors cross the finish line. When I searched further I found volumes of videos of riders helping competitors finish a race, even as far back as the 1956 Australian National Championships when a rider helped a fallen competitor and then went on to win the race with a comfortable gap.
The sheer number of acts of kindness was inspiring, but I was also impressed by the consistency of response from those who helped a contestant. When asked why they risked their own success by helping another, there was consistently some variation in the response: “Because it’s the right thing to do.”
Workers Compensation – Because it’s the right thing to do
Those of us who serve the workers’ compensation industry have a real privilege. Yes, it’s a company with financial goals, project deadlines and operational goals to achieve. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we serve an essential purpose: to help an injured worker return to work and life after an accident on the job. Everything we do as workers’ compensation insurers, agents, software companies and other providers can and should be viewed in terms of providing the necessary support and assistance to the injured worker. And finally, why do we do it? Because it’s the right thing to do.
Doing the right thing requires partnerships
With our goal of supporting injured workers and bringing them back to their livelihoods, I challenge all of us to take advantage of every advantage to do so with empathy and speed. A key way to achieve this in the complex landscape of workers’ compensation is to establish key partnerships that offer complementary services to help agents and insurers in their preferred mission. The “Not Invented Here” or tendency to avoid solutions offered through partnerships must be abandoned. It is only through key partnerships that we will succeed in better serving the injured worker.
Find the right partnerships
So which partnerships are the right ones? Certainly, agents and insurance companies already have partnerships to help them in their privileged mission. However, to truly serve the injured worker, these existing partnerships need to be expanded into technology partnerships. This includes workers’ compensation technology partnerships providing:
Intelligent automation, complementing operational production
Electronic signatures by SMS or e-mail, facilitating business
Predictive analytics for pricing, fraud detection and other operational benefits
Electronic payment that speeds up transactions
Composition of documents to ensure ease of exchange and accuracy of data
Artificial intelligence that provides information to improve decision making
Automation to process simple transactions and enable focus on complex transactions
Consistent text, voice, and automated communications that enable interactions with clear communication
Basic systems that are easy to deploy and contain in-depth workers’ compensation functionality
Medical, payroll and other critical data that complements decisions in ways that improve outcomes
Building partnerships can be challenging for any individual agent or insurance company, and maintaining those partnerships requires extra effort. Fortunately, there are exceptional solution providers that provide robust ecosystems and partnerships that are either already integrated or easily integrated. This is true even if you have hard-to-access legacy architectures. To fulfill their privileged mission, insurance companies and agents need to seek out these solution providers to rapidly develop their partner relationships.
The last word
Much like a runner coming to the aid of a fallen competitor, we need partners to show up alongside us and help us cross the finish line together, even though those partners may appear as competitors at first. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do to fulfill our privileged mission of helping injured workers return to work.
Shawn O’Rourke Director of Insurance. 35 years serving the insurance industry through technology. 20 years of CIO leadership delivering strategic and operational results in workers’ compensation and commercial insurance. Provide industry perspective and expertise to Sapiens and our current and potential partners.