Review of the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) Injured Worker Survey: Final Report

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Abstract

Executive Summary
Background
The Injured Worker Survey (IWS) is used by the Victorian WorkCover Authority(VWA) to monitor the experiences of injured workers in the Victorian workers’compensation system. Performance on the IWS is one basis on which claims agents are remunerated by the VWA. Following a series of revisions to the IWS, beginning in 2011, injured workers are now asked about activities or interactions they have had with claims agents in relation to six ‘key events’ in the claims process, in addition to their experience of particular service attributes. These key events represent significant activities or points of service during the life of a compensation claim and include:
(1) Eligibility;
(2) Independent Medical Examination;
(3) Return to Work;
(4) Adverse Decisions;
(5) Treatment, and
(6) Contact and Communication.
The VWA is now considering the linkage of claims agent performance on these key events to claims agent remuneration. This report presents the findings of an independent review of the IWS. Specifically, the review sought to address the following questions relating to the IWS:
Q1. Is the key event approach to the IWS valid and/or consistent with best practice?
Q2. Are the six key events in the IWS the right ones to focus on?
Q3. Is the IWS designed in a way that allows it to be modified in future without losing the value of the time series of data previously collected?
Q4. Are the questions in the IWS constructed appropriately for the respondent group (injured workers)?
Q5. Is the VWA deriving maximum value from the IWS data being collected? Are there alternative ways of analysing the data?
Q6. Is the reporting of the IWS data helping claims agents to identify opportunities for improvement?
Method
A panel of seven experts from Monash University was established to undertake the review. The panel employed mixed research methods to address the review questions and develop recommendations for the VWA. These methods included: a review of the relevant literature; analysis of de-identified IWS data provided by the VWA; consultation with an expert in survey design and development; semi-structured interviews with representatives of the five claims agents managing claims in the Victorian workers compensation system, and discussion and consultation with representatives of the VWA.
Findings
The panel determined that the key events based approach in the IWS is broadly and conceptually consistent with best practice. The review also identified validated survey approaches for assessing elements of organisational justice in workers’compensation processes that may be of value for the VWA to consider, and opportunities for the VWA to make some of the key events (notably the Return ToWork question) more focussed on tangible landmarks in the compensation process.While the key events approach is conceptually sound, there is significant room to improve the methodological, technical, and reporting aspects of the IWS to enhance its value as a monitoring and feedback tool, both for the VWA and for claims agents.Specifically, the panel identified 15 recommendations to improve current IWS practice and to increase the value derived from the IWS in the following areas:
· Survey design and construction;
· Sample selection;
· Analyses of data, and
· Reporting of results to claims agents.
It is clear from this review that the IWS is potentially a very powerful motivator of
claims agent behaviour when it is linked to claims agent remuneration. Ensuring
therefore that the approach taken in the IWS is methodologically and technically
sound, as well as conceptually strong, would enable claims agents to respond to
appropriate signals from injured workers and the VWA.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherVictorian WorkCover authority (VWA)
Commissioning bodyWorkSafe Victoria
Number of pages51
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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