Mitchell International, Inc., as reported in PropertyCasualty360.com, recently released the results of a survey regarding the adoption of technology in the workers’ compensation sector. As is often the case with such surveys, there were results we found surprising, while others aligned with our own observations.
The most surprising result was the finding that: “Telemedicine was the most integrated digital tool during the pandemic, with more than half of respondents saying their organization onboarded the technology in the past year.” On initial review, that would seem significant. Until we think about the reality of the past year. States were locked down. Offices were closed. Doctors who were not in emergency or acute care facilities were often not seeing patients; especially patients that actually appeared to be sick. And in the midst of that, we get a survey that says “more than half” of the industry adopted telemedicine as a result. That means almost half did not.
That begs the question, who among us DID NOT embrace telemedicine in the middle of a pandemic?
We recognize that the workers’ compensation industry is not the speediest when it comes to embracing change. Our reticence is often magnified when that “change” has the label “technology” applied to it. But to think that telemedicine was not more widely embraced when everyone was hiding at home in their underwear is a surprise.
Other results of the survey were not as surprising. As a company that sells technology-based services that assist insurance operations in the workers’ comp sector, we’ve seen an uptick in demand and a willingness to adapt to new systems. Also, some of the challenges listed in the survey were no great surprise. IT budgets were one such obstacle. As a person who has been involved with customer discussions regarding implementing new services, I can tell you that negotiating IT time within large companies is a continuing and common impediment to progress. Another one, keeping up with regulatory changes, was also no surprise. Perhaps (shameless plug alert) it is because that is one of the things we do. Clearly, our customers did not have to list that concern in the survey. It is no longer an issue for them (end of shameless plug).
To be honest, there were some areas not directly addressed with this year’s survey. It would have been nice to know how many people in the industry were able to get both their microphone and camera working for a majority of Zoom calls. It would also be nice to know how many of them now know what a Zoom call is. How many people in the industry had a major wardrobe malfunction at least once during the year while engaging in a video call? Or how many showed up as a kitten or demon because they couldn’t figure out how to turn off a filter on their computer? Those would be really interesting statistics to have.
And perhaps the question that could also be asked would be, “If a pandemic that closed much of the nation cannot prompt you to adopt a simple concept like telemedicine, what will? What will it actually take?”