Local Talent Cuts Wait Time for Workers’ Comp Hearings in Half

Three Amigos 2

DLIR’s Three Amigos: Jodie Nakamura, Ryan Mercado and Liam Tobin. Photo courtesy of DLIR.

For lives affected by a workplace injury, time is of the essence to resolve bottlenecks in the historically manual, paper-intensive claims process. Three employees of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Disability Compensation Division (DCD) are making progress in enhancing efficiency and in improving the experiences of their end customer which includes employers, insurance carriers and workers injured on the job.

Jodie Nakamura, Ryan Mercado and Liam Tobin — or the “Three Amigos,” as they are known in the division — began the scanning project and helped train their division in utilizing optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

Though scanning paperwork is not groundbreaking on its own, digitization efforts for an organization like the division resulted in both efficiency and in improving the experiences of their end customer. The department maintains a staggering 40,000 active case files and processes more than 22,000 new workers’ compensation claims per year.

Paper work

Thousands of files have been digitized at the state’s disability compensation program. However, they need hardware with capacity for more storage to continue progress.

As a result of the project, the department as a whole was able to cut its clienteles’ hearing wait time in half.

In 2015, the division hired consulting firm Gartner Group to analyze its business procedures.

Gartner’s Disability Compensation Business Process Optimization report identified efficiency issues, bottlenecks, outdated procedures and data sharing challenges. The report also outlined a roadmap to execute the recommended business process changes.

Since then, clear progress was achieved by the Three Amigos; however, due to storage constraints from older technology, the project will be limited until new hardware with additional storage capacity is installed.

“We have worked collaboratively with the Legislature to modernize the Division’s business processes and technology infrastructure,” said DLIR Director Leonard Hoshijo. Still, the state is striving to make government more effective and efficient for our customers, which in this case includes employers, insurance carriers and workers injured on the job.

In 2017, the state Legislature appropriated additional funding to expand the division’s electronic intake of claims and data migration to new hardware. This year, the DLIR is set to post a Request for Proposal to hire a contractor to complete a new Case Management System and will request additional funding for the fiscal year 2019 to complete the work.

As for the “Three Amigos,” all continue to work for the state and have advanced in their division.

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