Today we talked to Dan Miller- a senior consultant to ClaimDocs and the president of Daniel Miller, MPH Consulting. Through his long career in public health, Dan has provided excellent consulting services to workers’ comp, disability and employee benefit management programs- helping such organizations as AT&T, Black & Decker, Kmart, Nationwide Insurance Company and others. He was the point man on the design of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation System Health Partnership and Quality Health Programs. We’re glad he had the chance to talk with us as it’s clear he’s a busy man!
WCInsights: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
DM: I started at Northeastern where I became interested in the field of public health, then I went on to get my Masters in public health from the Columbia University School of Public Health- where I won a public health internship with Cornell Medical School.
WCInsights: How did you get into the workers’ comp side of health?
DM: I spent a year working with the Taft Hartley Health Fund- when they were doing the study on second opinion and surgical fee negotiation. From there I became an employee health benefit cost containment consultant. Fast forward a number of years and I was approached by people in the work comp industry who were looking to set up provider networks, I helped one insurance company put together the first workers’ comp PPO networks. We put together networks and IME networks in New Jersey then I became the national director of workers comp managed care for Watson Wyatt. I found that workers’ comp tended to be about 10 years behind where group health was, and I think my expertise in health care delivery systems really helped me in workers’ comp.
WCInsights: Who do you think had had a big impact on your life- whether in your career or personal life?
DM: It would take me all day to name everyone! I think the two most important are my mom and dad, they put me through school which I always appreciated. They taught me to enjoy the good things in life, and my dad taught me the work ethic. One of my college professors, Dr. McLaurin from Northeastern was a great mentor who sparked my interest in public health.
WCInsights: What sorts of hobbies or activities do you do outside of work (if there is such a thing)?
DM: I have tons of hobbies. I am a guitar player; I enjoy playing with other friends. I’m also a sports fan. I follow my high school football team and college teams. My high school team- Saint Peter’s Prep is one of the top teams in the country. My work schedule tends to miraculously revolve around sporting events. When people ask if I can come to town for a meeting I’ll say “Oh what a coincidence that my team will be playing in town that same weekend”. I got away with that for many years and it was a lot of fun, traveling to different cities and meeting people from all over. Sometimes it actually saves money to stay over on a Saturday or for the weekend so many companies had no problem with me coming out.
WCInsights: I know you do a lot of consulting, can you tell us a little more about ClaimDocs?
DM: I’m the senior consultant to ClaimDocs- very exciting work that I think could revolutionize the industry. They combine their IT technology with best practices to schedule IME’s which is a very difficult area of workers’ comp. They’re used in complicated and costly claims and it can be time consuming to schedule them since there are so many layers and steps involved. By the time the worker even goes for the IME there is usually a lot of miscommunication and confusion already. What ClaimDocs does is try to modernize that process and integrate it with claims payer systems so that all the details are tracked. I see it as a win-win because the claimant will get the highest quality medical care and insurance companies can schedule these things properly and efficiently.
WCInsights: Where do you see the industry headed in the next few years?
DM: I’ve been in the consulting business for almost 30 years and workers’ comp maybe 20 or 25 years and as much as thing change, things stay the same. Unfortunately I think it’s a slow industry that is resistant to change- however it is happening. A lot of technology companies are developing powerful tools that will speed up the process and automate many components. But delays are still the enemy of the system and workers’ comp is still a very cumbersome process.
WCInsights: What kinds of technology do you use that are essential to you?
DM: I am pretty old school- when I started in this industry there was no internet, no fax machines or email. I think the biggest pieces of technology I use are my laptop and phone. I can connect wherever I am and I have the freedom to pretty much work from anywhere. I can follow news easier; I can write an article and have it published almost immediately. I love to research and with the capabilities we have today it is much easier and exciting.
WCInsights: What kind of technology do you wish you had that would make your job easier?
DM: I wish I had an extensive guide on workers’ comp issues, best practices, dispute resolutions. It’s so difficult because state laws are different as far as reporting, medical care, fee schedules, etc. If I could just go to one source and come up with the answer to a complicated case in say, Florida, and who to talk to about implementing new programs and what you can and cannot do in each state- that would be great.
WCInsights: Can you tell us a little about your work with Ohio developing their risk management program?
DM: That was one of the proudest moments in my career, and Ohio is a very difficult state since private insurance companies are not allowed to do business there. You’re either in the state fund or self-insured. I helped guide them into a managed care program- addressing the needs of labor management, state agencies, managed care organizations and other stakeholders. A lot of it was just educating people since nobody seemed to trust each other or understand each other’s problems- from doctors to labor groups to injured workers. I helped put a platform together and develop a consensus on how to deal with all the issues they faced.
WCInsights: What kinds of things have you seen that make for a successful risk management program- and what kinds of things haven’t worked out as well?
DM: The most successful programs are able to involve the root cause of the big issues, and then dive into solutions to those problems. The most successful programs analyze things like what’s causing injuries that shouldn’t happen and what happens once they do occur- and they try to get to the root of the problem. There is no off-the-shelf solution and it takes time, it takes effort to identify these causes. You can’t go into a workplace with solutions ahead of time. You need to figure out recommendations based on each unique environment, and a lot of suggestions from the group health side fail because they do not address the unique complexities of workers’ comp.
WCInsights: What makes a great leader?
DM: Someone who has a vision to picture how things can be done in a more productive way- and be able to get buy in for their ideas. They should make their team feel like they are part of a team and accomplishing something. They should be aware they are accountable for their decisions.
WCInsights: What kinds of resources do you use to stay on top of work comp news?
DM: I like LinkedIn, getting involved with the groups and reading the issues that people around the country are dealing with. I read the newspapers every day and follow news on the internet. I am a writer myself but I read other blogs to see if I can’t find common ground on what my colleagues are saying. It’s a very time consuming process just to be informed of what’s going on!