Here at WCInsights we had the privilege to interview the Program Chair of the upcoming Workers’ Compensation Education Conference, held from August 17th-20th in Orlando. Steven Rissman has been involved with the conference for about 30 years and has worked as a defense lawyer in workers’ compensation for over 40 years. At first the conference was run by the state of Florida, and roughly 300 or 400 people attended each year. Mr. Rissman took charge of the conference along with General Chairman Jim McConnaughhay and a few others who were on the board of the Workers’ Compensation Institute. Though still based in sunny Florida, it has now grown to a national convention that draws over 8,000 people yearly.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the conference has evolved?
Rissman: We had been running the conference as a Florida-specific event with the Florida Workers’ Compensation Institute (FWCI) but kept getting questions, especially from those in risk management, about the possibility of a more comprehensive national program. Before the conference went national it attracted mostly Florida adjusters and Florida lawyers, and there was not a lot of participation from those in risk management. We created the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) and changed it from FWCI to WCI to help foster the national scope of the event. Now we have way more attendees who focus on risk management and national medical issues as well. It could be the best risk management program in the country now.
We have such high profile speakers that people will fly in just to see a session or two. Our industry speaker this year is Scott Hudson, president and CEO of Gallagher Bassett. These are industry decision makers and industry movers, and they really add a dramatic element to the convention.
What separates this conference from others workers’ comp events or conferences?
Rissman: While all of the conferences have their purpose, ours is more educationally focused and networking centered than some of the others who have large trade shows. There are probably 400 or 500 speakers and we have a very large focus on education, though networking is also important to us.
People are very excited about the live surgery, which will take place the Tuesday of the conference. We have been doing this program long before anyone besides a medical convention has and though they might be common for medical conventions, it’s revolutionary for our industry. We beam the surgery in live and the doctors can talk to us while they are working on the patient. Everything is on camera; even their tools have tiny cameras on the end so you’re actually seeing inside the human body. It is extremely fascinating, especially for people who don’t do that as a living. This year we have an ankle surgery and a shoulder labrum repair. It’s practical because the doctors will talk about how long patients might miss work or what their restrictions could be when they return, these are things adjusters and employers should know.
We have the only judicial conference for workers’ comp judges in the country, and we have the only regulators’ college for workers’ comp in the country.
What are some of the specific events this year that people might be excited about?
Rissman: As I mentioned, Scott Hudson will be the industry speaker. We also have Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly who is our keynote address and Kenny Loggins as the entertainment.
Our risk management program is full of highly talented speakers and panelists. We have leaders from 7-Eleven, Marsh, Sedgwick, Helmsman, Liberty, Publix, and more. David Stills from Walmart, Michelle Adams from Disney World, Susan Benjamin from Lowes, the list goes on and on. The risk management program is a highlight of the convention.
New events this year are the regulators’ college, a breakout for agents, a breakout event for acupuncture and a breakout for physical therapy. Those are all brand new this year and I think people who may not have attended the conference before could come for those. But the best attended programs are the ones we have traditionally held. The old is still relevant, or the people wouldn’t come to see it.
What topics do you think people will be buzzing about at the conference?
Rissman: Medicare is going to be a big issue, and we have a whole program on that. There are over-utilization and over-medication issues that people are interested in. The over-prescription of OxyContin always gets a lot of play, as does over-treatment and those types of issues.
What tips do you have for conference attendees?
Rissman: We’ve got a breakout for almost everybody, and while I think it is great to go to the breakout in your field, I encourage attendees to go to a breakout outside of their comfort zone. Learn something that is exciting and challenges you, not something you already have a background in.
Thank you to Steven Rissman, who has worked hard to make the Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference a success! It sounds like the event has a lot to offer and we can’t wait.
If you are attending the conference and might want to set up a meeting with the Acrometis team, let us know here. See you there!