July 2, 2019
California Farm Management Case Study
Technology and Empathy Bring Significant Savings to the Workers’ Compensation Market
A program launched by California Farm Management, a self-insured farmers’ collective, brought scalable empathy to injured workers and led to unprecedented savings that exceeded expectations
California Farm Management (CFM), founded in 2005, is one of the largest self-insured farm collectives in the state of California. CFM provides workers’ compensation coverage to 90,000 employees. Cream of the Crop Ag Services is a member of CFM and employs several thousand workers.
CFM is one of eight self-insured workers’ compensation groups in California managed under the umbrella of Self Insured Solution (SIS). Pooling resources to self-insure their workers’ compensation programs, SIS manages over $100 million in annual workers’ compensation contributions. Their goal is to provide employers with cost effective solutions to manage their workers’ compensation obligations, protect the health and safety of employees, ensure proper medical care for injured workers and build a sound financial future.
Despite extensive loss-control and safety programs that aim to reduce claims by cutting down on the frequency and severity of accidents, one group within CFM’s collective, Cream of the Crop Ag Services, realized they needed to contain costs and improve their risk profile. They were experiencing rapid growth and were looking for more efficient ways to scale their workers’ compensation program. They noticed that one sub-contractor group in the labor pool had higher-than-normal claims and litigation rates.
Digging deeper, they discovered several reasons for the high claims and litigation rates within the sub-contractor group:
- Workers were spread out on farms over a large geographic area, which made it difficult to manage on-site injuries and implement controls and consistency for safety protocols
- Workers routinely sought medical attention at emergency rooms or doctor’s clinics as a first line of care, rather than reporting injuries to safety teams who could better assess and direct a course of treatment
- There were limited opportunities for safety teams to establish strong personal relationships with workers because of the relatively high frequency of new hires to meet growth demands
- Workers were more apt to hire a lawyer and proceed with litigation following a work injury because of the lack of strong relationships
Cream of the Crop wanted to reduce claims and litigation costs, improve relationships between employers and employees and expedite return-to-work times for injured employees.
In June 2018, Cream of the Crop partnered with ChronWell to analyze its workers’ compensation program from start to finish and overlay appropriate efficiencies. The ChronWell Recovry™ platform uses a combination of advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and skilled professionals to provide a holistic solution to workplace injuries from the moment of an incident through the resolution of a claim.
Central to ChronWell’s approach to improving work injury outcomes is applying a SaaS model that makes empathy scalable across any size organization. Leveraging advanced analytics, the ChronWell Recovry™ platform is able to automate many of the labor-intensive tasks of managing claims and apply empathydriven services to keep in constant contact with the injured worker. This happens through a mobile chatbot app for smartphone users and a customer call center. The concierge service prioritizes treatments, coordinates appointments, answers questions and keeps the patient engaged throughout their recovery process.
On the system’s back end, Recovry Central™ streamlines tasks normally handled manually by third-party adjusters and coordinates the claims process between the employee, employer and insurer. Machine-intelligent technology constantly scans and assesses the risk in each case.
For example, if an injured worker misses a scheduled appointment, the system alerts a ChronWell customer service agent to check in with that worker by phone. Implementing best practices through AI and automating certain tasks allows the customer service agent to focus on empathy and the quality of the interaction with the injured worker.
“Communicating frequently with our employees when they’re out of work with a work-related injury is paramount to earning trust, maintaining good relationships and expediting their return to work. Recovry Central™ opens up the channels of communication so that we can stay in constant contact and make sure injured workers never feel alone in the recovery process,” said Santiago Martin, Jr., CEO of Trilogy Group, the administrative company for Central Valley Contracting, Cream of the Crop Ag Service and Cal Ag Resources.
“Communicating frequently with our employees when they’re out of work with a work-related injury is paramount to earning trust, maintaining good relationships and expediting their return to work. Recovry Central™ opened up the channels of communication so that we could stay in constant contact and make sure injured workers never feel alone in the recovery process.”
– Santiago Martin, Jr.
Recovry™ In Action
While driving a forklift at one of the Cream of the Crop farms, a worker stopped to help load pallets onto the loading dock. As he bent down and lifted a heavy sack, he felt a pain shoot up his back. At first, he didn’t think much of it. “I thought it would go away. I went home and the next morning, my back was really aching.” Confident he could handle the pain, he went back to work, but as the day progressed, he knew he needed help. After describing his symptoms to a ChronWell nurse over the phone, she advised him to ice his back and go to a nearby clinic. She recommended a clinic in his area where he would be able to avoid a long wait time. When he got to the clinic, one of the farm’s safety coordinators was there to meet him, and he got in to see the doctor right away.
The very next day he received a phone call from a ChronWell customer service representative. At first, he was reluctant to speak to her, because he thought it was an insurance adjuster who would find a way to deny his claim. Once he understood that the ChronWell representative was on his side and would help coordinate his appointments, he felt comfortable giving her status updates whenever she called.
“After the accident, my back started aching again. It was getting worse.” His next appointment wasn’t for two weeks, but the pain was becoming unbearable. “So, I called ChronWell, and they rescheduled my appointment for the next day.” He credits the help he received from ChronWell for speeding up his return to work. “They asked me for updates. Asked how things were going. They called the adjuster for me. They helped out a lot. If they didn’t know something they would say, ‘I’ll give you a call back.’” When he returned to work, his relationship with his supervisor hadn’t suffered at all, and he was able to resume with modified duties. “I definitely recommend this service.”
After identifying the sources of high litigation and claims costs, ChronWell worked with Cream of the Crop safety teams to analyze the existing processes for handling on-site injuries and claims management. The first thing they needed to do was separate which tasks could be automated (like reporting claims) and which ones required personalized attention (like follow-up care).
One of the most dynamic challenges of this employee pool was that it operates in a widespread region, with large distances between farms. Any time a worker got injured, crew bosses had to mobilize a safety team to the site of the incident. “Mobilizing safety teams to respond to incidents over a large region is a challenge. The mobile solutions of ChronWell gave us a more effective way to record injuries and facilitate prompt follow up from other teams at our headquarters,” said Juan Zaldivar, Director of Safety.
Once workers received appropriate care, the next challenge was to keep the worker engaged. Having a scalable process in place allowed employers to stay in constant contact with injured workers and proactively follow up with phone calls or via the mobile app no matter how many cases were being handled at a time. Implementing technology alleviated the logistical challenges of monitoring claims across a geographically spread workforce.
In addition, the Recovry™ platform automated the reporting process. Before deploying Recovry™, reporting was done manually, which overloaded adjusters with mundane tasks and prevented them from managing relationships with injured workers. The AI-backed platform brought transparency to each claim, allowing employer, employee and insurer to all be in sync. On account of this, the ChronWell program has significantly moved Cream of the Crop toward its goal of a completely paperless environment.
Having ChronWell customer service agents as a neutral party – neither from the employer nor the insurance company – made injured workers feel more comfortable about opening up. Because they had someone available to answer questions and agents who were checking in on a regular basis, relationships improved.
Lack of trust had been a critical driver in the high litigation rates. Once workers felt more engaged and better cared for, they turned less frequently to litigation as a means of resolving work injuries. This amounted to a 37.8% reduction in litigation claim costs and an estimated 30% overall savings on new claims from previous years*.
“We came into the pilot with an expectation that handling workers’ comp cases with empathy would have some level of impact, but we were shocked and delighted by the depth of the impact from a data results perspective,” said Joe Rubinsztain, ChronWell CEO. “Self-insured groups like California Farm Management are well positioned to adapt to innovative, scalable solutions that minimize workers’ comp cost drivers and risk profiles.”
“Mobilizing safety teams to respond to incidents over a large region is a challenge. The mobile solutions of ChronWell gave us a more effective way to record injuries and facilitate prompt follow up from other teams at our headquarters.”
– Juan Zaldivar, Director of Safety