This morning finds me firmly ensconced in a top secret “undisclosed location”, preparing to attend the 2016 Workers’ Compensation Summit – the result of an earlier call for a national conversation on workers’ comp. When I first published the article “Who Will Lead The National Conversation on Workers’ Compensation” on February 8, 2016, I had no idea about the chain of events that would lead me here today; entering the fray in a location previously known as Dick Cheney’s basement. 

For the next two days, industry leaders, organization representatives and innovative practitioners will gather and debate the processes of workers’ comp, stripping its various issues to their very core. For the time being these people are not being publicly identified, and there will be no updates published during the meetings. This is to encourage free and critical input, and to make sure that the meeting stays on task. Despite ridiculous allegations from some corners that this meeting is a secretive affair designed to protect sacred profitable processes, all will be disclosed in the weeks following the event. We will be publishing a list of attendees and the organizations they represent, as well as all comments made during the meetings. We will not, however, attribute specific quotes to any individuals. Who said what is not as important as what they said.

As you will see, that full disclosure is absolutely necessary if this process is to have a singular chance in hell of accomplishing anything. 

The goal for this meeting is fairly well defined. We do not expect to solve any issues facing our industry this week; instead we hope to spark continued dialogue via numerous groups and organizations over the next year. Those ongoing discussions will hopefully allow us to refocus critical infrastructure and procedures to improve outcomes for all stakeholders in the system.  

I can’t predict what the outcome of this effort will be. I know what I would like to see from it, however. As regular readers will know, I like to envision a reformed workers' compensation system that has shifted from a sometimes dehumanizing “process myopia” to one focused on recovery and return. I would like to see some closer standards between jurisdictions, and better communication and educational efforts for newly injured workers. This system would adopt a more holistic “whole family” approach to dealing with Recovering Workers and their social network, and strong return to function programs would be in place designed to dissuade the all too familiar drift to the unforgiving enslavement of disability dependence.

And of course, this new system would be called “Workers' Recovery”, so that people who have no understanding of the program they are entering can gain an immediately clearer vision of what is expected from them in the end.

That is my unfettered hope. My true expectations are much more grounded. One thing is certain; we need to openly discuss the results of this gathering, and encourage further dialogue throughout our industry. The next two days I will be in a room with some very influential people in workers' comp, but they alone cannot effect any changes we may identify. It will take a much broader effort of the community at large, from all facets of the industry. 

This conversation is just a beginning. It will need to grow far beyond our initial efforts here in the basement, and gain the interest and support of many more people across the industry. I hope, should we plan to meet again a year from now, that we will be able to look back on solid progress representing real change. Workers' comp is under the microscope, but we have the collective knowledge and skill to address these problems. 

And it appears we will have plenty to talk about. I'll see you in a couple days.

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