Magazine article Risk Management

Integrating Risk - Really: Partnership Thrives at UC Davis

Magazine article Risk Management

Integrating Risk - Really: Partnership Thrives at UC Davis

Article excerpt

Integrated risk management isn't just a buzzword at University of California, Davis, it's a reality. A comprehensive partnership combining expertise from risk management -- workers' compensation, employee health and other departments -- has reduced injury claims from the campus' 15,000 employees. Deborah Luthi, director of human resources and risk management, says the partnership, which includes the campus' environmental health & safety and vocational rehabilitation departments along with a third party administrator, has reduced the average cost per claim from an all-time high of $4,639 to $2,508, representing an annual savings of $2 million. Similarly, the total number of claims has declined from 1,130 to 929.

"We share a philosophy that we're all in this together-that none of us is smarter separately than we are together," Ms. Luthi says. "We all collaborate closely, whether it's managing specific cases or holding broader programmatic meetings and responding to issues and trends."

The campus' partnership began in the early 1990s, when an employee health services clinic was established. Until that point, injured employees had been treated at the student health center. By creating a separate facility, the university was able to tailor medical care to the specific needs of the injured employees and better provide physical therapy care and vocational rehab services.

With the quality of their care improving, a stronger effort was made to enroll employees in modified duty programs.

"We already had a return-to-work policy, but we seized the opportunity and worked to make it even more effective," Ms. Luthi says. "At the health center, the physician has an occupational medicine background, so he understands an employee injury from both the medical and employment standpoints. Now we work closely with the employee's supervisor to gain a better understanding of the job and the injury, and to learn how we can accommodate the employee's condition and get him or her back to work."

Under the program, if a department can't accommodate a worker, the employee is temporarily assigned to another department. Ms. Luthi adds that during this period the employee's home department continues to bear the salary expense, which provides a strong incentive for departments to accommodate their own workers. …

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