Getting to Know: William Pipkin
One of the architects of this year's Workers' Compensation Conference spills on this important endeavor and the issues faced in the field.
By Eric Gilkey
Austill, Lewis, Pipkin & Maddox P.C.’s partner discusses his work on CLM’s Workers’ Compensation committee and previews its upcoming conference in May, which you can register for at theclm.org.
On the challenges of putting together a conference:
“This is the fourth year for this event. Due to the parochial nature of workers’ compensation, it can be difficult to put together a seminar that creates interest on a national level. Workers’ compensation systems are state-based and often differ drastically from one to another. Unlike construction, trucking, or products liability, these differences often make national seminars more difficult to plan because a workers’ compensation specialist in California may not have any interest in issues that are hot in another jurisdiction. The challenge is pinpointing national issues and trends that impact everyone, such as the developments in Medicare, evidence-based medicine, or the Affordable Care Act. A few of the topics to be addressed at our seminar this coming May includes issues involving opioids and pain management; recent developments with Medicare; attacks on the exclusivity doctrine; and best practices for claims handling.”
On advocating for the injured worker:
“Last year, we put together a panel entitled, ‘Advocacy for the Injured Worker.’ It included Darrell Brown, senior vice president and chief performance officer for Sedgwick, and Dawn Watkins, who as director for the Los Angeles Unified School District handles claims administration. Some might say that is a non-traditional approach—since when do claims professionals advocate for injured workers? But research is showing that when employers spend money upfront for good diagnostics and treatment with top-notch doctors early on, it pays dividends down the road. You get the best outcomes from an occupational, functional, and medical standpoint, which is what we should be concerned with anyway. We are learning that when we focus on doing what is best for the injured worker, we get better outcomes and we end up spending less in the long run.”
On the issues facing workers’ compensation in 2015:
“Data/metrics and opioids are among the two most obvious issues. Personally, I think certain standards of care in medicine are going to change over the next several years. Research on the use of narcotic medication to treat pain and on the effectiveness of certain surgical procedures is calling into question some currently accepted medical practices. For example, studies have shown that lumbar spinal fusion surgery often is ineffective and may actually create more problems for the patient. Another example involves the use of narcotics to control pain. Studies are showing that opioids are not effective to control pain, and long-term use decreases life expectancy. I expect we will see a decrease in the frequency of invasive procedures, too. Going in and cutting on someone’s back to repair a herniated disc doesn’t necessarily stop the pain. Some folks have good outcomes, but for a lot of people it compounds their problems.”
On CLM’s recently formed Religion and Non-Profit committee:
“CLM identified an underserved area of the insurance and claims community and formed the Religious and Non-Profit committee to address that area. The committee chairs include Jeff Schneider, Christian Novay, Kymberlee Tysk, and me. We are drafting a mission statement and goals for the committee now, and Christian and Jeff will have an article out on the committee in the coming months.”