Comp to face pandemic-related challenges in 2021, beyond

Workers compensation will likely continue to face challenges from the pandemic and will need to adapt to address COVID-19-related treatment gaps, according to a report released Thursday by Mitchell International Inc.

In its 2020 Industry Trends Report, the San Diego-based property/casualty technology company predicts that the workers comp industry will continue to see shortages of primary care physicians and delays in patient care. In addition, the industry will need to lean more heavily on automation and telehealth and will likely see increasing numbers of opioid abuse and mental health claims.

“One care trend that we’ll be watching closely this year is what happens with palliative care,” Michele Hibbert-Iacobacci, senior vice president of regulatory compliance management at Mitchell, said in the report. “Are claimants still getting palliative treatments that were delayed due to the pandemic after they are healed?”

An uptick in opioid abuse and mental health claims are also likely challenges for the workers comp industry in 2021 and beyond given the increases in overdose reported since the start of the pandemic shutdowns and studies showing a substantial uptick in reported anxiety and depression, according to the report.

The workers comp industry will also likely continue its adoption of automation and digitization to streamline workflow and embrace the continued use of telemedicine to treat injured workers.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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