Injured workers in Newfoundland and Labrador could receive benefits and return to work more quickly following a plan to create a Web-based claims management system that will serve thousands of employers across the province.
The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission has started on a four-year plan that will see the development of a community portal offering at least 75 services to better align its internal structures. The project is expected to automate how employers manage their accounts, occupational health and safety committee minutes and advice notices and certificates of clearance. The Commission has chosen local integrator Xwave as its partner in the project, the financial terms of which were not disclosed.
Officials said the claims management system will be based on Microsoft’s .Net Framework 2.0 and Visual Studio Team Edition, running on an IBM iSeries and DB2. It will replace a predecessor that was first built in the late 1980s, and continues to handle the claims of some 12,000 workers each year.
“It was basically built around an imaging system — documents were imaged and then indexed,” said Joan McCarthy-Wiseman, director of the Commission’s information technology services. “It doesn’t have a lot of the functionality we would need to help case managers get access to data quicker.”
Paul Kavanagh, the Commission’s chief financial and information officer, said the organization has almost finished the requirements definition for the claims management system. The Commission dispatched teams two years ago to visit similar organizations across the country to look for best practices and models, though they found nothing that would be simply replicated to serve its needs.
The Commission is particularly interested in reducing Newfoundland and Labrador’s claims duration, which Kavanagh said have at times been among the highest in Canada. Claims duration includes both the time it takes for a worker to recover from an injury and the time it takes to gather and act on information.
“We have to make sure we get the stakeholders engaged, especially on speeding return to work,” he said. “This model of Web services will help facilitate that.”
Xwave program director Horace Noseworthy said the claims management system will use new electronic forms that will include between 70 to 80 data fields. The system will first be piloted with a core team of 10-12 people, to make sure the data is clean. Significant training will then be provided to the approximately 150 users, he added.
“They’re going to have to take ownership of that data now.”
The project comes at a time when the Commission recently started using teams comprised of 12 people to adjudicate cases, including health-care and client service professionals. “When it comes to the technology, we hope staff will be able to see a daily dashboard of our performance versus what’s expected,” said Tom Mahoney, executive director of worker services. “We’ve already begun a new way of working.”
Implementation of the first stage of the project will begin in April.