Welcome to the MedMetrics Blog

The MedMetrics blog provides comments and insights regarding the world of Workers’ Compensation, principally, issues that are medically-related. The blog offers viewpoints regarding issues affecting the industry written by persons who have long experience in the industry. Our intent is to offer additional fabric, perspective, and hopefully, inspiration to our readers.

Search The MedMetrics Blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Are You an Industry Disruptor? It Can be a Good Thing

by Karen Wolfe

The idea of an industry disruptor might be reminiscent of a classroom prankster, the one who continually distracts to keep the teacher off topic. But no. The term “industry disruptor” is being used to describe organizations with concepts or approaches that significantly impact an industry. Because of their unique presence and ingenuity, industry disruptors change the entire industry—often forever.

Industry disruptors
Think of Steve Jobs’ invention and Apple, Inc.’s implementation of the iPod. It turned the music industry on its side. Jobs could envision completely new products and new ways to use them, so he changed the music world. But the music industry was not the only business he disrupted.

Jobs did not invent the cell phone, but he changed the way cell phones are used. The “smart” iPhone profoundly changed the way we use phones. Now they are small, but powerful hand-held computers with apps that embrace almost any activity. Land lines have become almost obsolescent and old “Ma Bell” would not recognize the industry.

Moving on, Jobs also disrupted the personal computer industry with the iPad. Sales are down for laptops and portable computers because people rely on the simpler iPad for personal use, for e-reading, for movies, and for specific business adaptations. As an example, doctors’ offices now use iPads for data input into EMR’s (Electronic Medical Records). iPads and phones even capture credit cards and signatures.

Jobs could “think different”, actually using that phrase in advertising. He could envision, design, develop, and implement electronic tools that disrupt whole industries. Amazingly, the technology, through the continuous development of apps (purpose-specific applications) has allowed expansion from the original concept into every avenue of life.

Yet another, more recent disruptor is Uber. Uber has taken use of the smart phone a step further, thereby changing the way people travel from point to point in cities. Just tap your phone, and you will be picked up and driven to your destination. No money or credit card transactions are needed because that has been set up in advance on the Uber website.  

Uber has seriously disrupted the stodgy taxi industry as people find the simplicity of Uber quicker and more satisfactory. However, disruptor transition is not necessarily easy. Uber is suffering from growth stumbles and legal push-back from the taxi industry. Resistance is found in many industries.

Disruptors in Workers’ Compensation
Everyone agrees Workers’ Compensation needs updating and improving. Unfortunately, the industry is notoriously resistant to change. What would an industry disruptor create for this industry?

Some say the big change needed is to legislate the employer opt-out option from state regulated systems. Texas and Oklahoma are the change leaders in that effort. However, a group of employers is working in other states to bring about similar legislation. If well-executed, these efforts could significantly impact the industry.

To bring about superior, sustainable change, new applications of technology will be required to monitor consistency, quality, and compliance across jurisdictions. The technology is available. Now a unique application is needed, one that everyone loves to use!

Loving technology
Loving technology is not a sentiment normally found in Workers’ Compensation. That is because most still think of technology as tedious data input and mistrust the output. Nevertheless, creative technology could boost and enhance nearly every activity in Workers’ Compensation.

The ultimate goal in any Workers’ Compensation endeavor is (should be) to optimize the medical care of injured workers at the lowest possible cost. A successful industry disruptor will apply technology in new ways, thereby positively impacting cost and outcome pathways for injured workers and their employers.

Industry disruptors
Any industry disruptor technology will encounter resistance in Workers’ Compensation. However, everyone can contribute to positive industry disruption by simply being open to change. Change might mean doing things differently. It might be willingness to learn about and adopt new technology-based approaches in business operations. It might even mean willingness to love technology.

The point is, a creative new use of technology will change the way the Workers’ Compensation world is managed going forward. Industry disruptors will make that happen.

Karen Wolfe is the founder and President of MedMetrics®, LLC, a Workers’ Compensation medical analytics and technology services company. MedMetrics analyzes the data and offers online apps that super-charge medical management by linking analytics to operations, thereby making them actionable. karenwolfe@medmetrics.org